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Evelyn Millis Duvall, Ph.D. 

Reuben Hill, Ph.D. 



Sylvanus M. Duvall, Ph.D. 





No part of the material covered by this copyright 

may be reproduced in any form 

without written permission of the publisher. 

Printed in the United States of America. (519) 

Cartoons drawn by 



GETTING married and raising a family today require advance prepa- 
ration. Most couples want their marriages to succeed. But wishing 
happiness is not enough. Marriages that have been preceded by study 
and careful mate selection and which are followed by skillful handling 
of adjustments have high success rates. Without adequate preparation 
anything can happen! This book has been written to supply the kind of 
guidance that is sought and needed "when you marry." 

As in the original When You Marry, the chapter order is functional. 
It focuses on the person contemplating marriage and takes up in turn 
the questions he actually asks, beginning with the part personality plays 
in marriage and ending with the problems of the empty nest. But in 
keeping with the spirit of the book, we recommend that the teacher of 
the class, or the leader of the group, poll the members to ascertain their 
interests. We have found that most young people are personality con- 
scious and wish to begin as the text commences with "What You Bring 
to Marriage," or sometimes with Chapter Two, "It's Love!?" A group 
of wives and mothers, on the other hand, may choose to start with 
Part 2, "What It Means to Be Married," or with Part 3, "The Making of 
a Family." A class of out-of-school adults may prefer to consider the 
entire last section, "Family Life Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow," be- 
fore taking up the more person-centered materials. This is functional 
education: to start where the person is and work outward, in this case 
to a broad understanding of the entire gamut of marriage and family 

We hope the book will continue to be the basis for self-study for 
many young couples who find themselves unable to attend a course in 
marriage and the family. Our suggestions for further thinking and ac- 
tivity through counseling, specific readings, and helps for working out 
personal and family problems are designed to facilitate self-study as well 
as group discussion. We have tried to keep the book close to the reali- 
ties of life, and in line with proven principles and valid scientific con- 


The check tests are designed to help the reader check his compre- 
hension of the material as he goes along. They have proved valuable 
too as devices to stimulate group discussion. The illustrations are used 
to enforce a point or to tell a tale. Each cartoon depicts a situation 
which the student may view more objectively for having thought through 
it visually. Flashed on a screen or copied on a blackboard, they become 
live material for discussion. 

The rapid development of the marriage and family field is vividly seen 
in the quality and amount of new material that re-enforces the entire 
revised edition. New census data, several national conferences, and a 
great deal of new research have required whole new sections in every 
chapter and have contributed significantly to the two new chapters. 

By this time our debt to others who have blazed the trails that we 
follow and who have encouraged us in our pioneering is too great to 
list in detail. We appreciate more than we can enumerate the thou- 
sands of colleagues, friends, and students who have encouraged, as- 
sisted, and prodded us through the years. Their criticisms arising out 
of their experiences in using the first edition have played a major role in 
the focusing of this new volume. 

Specifically, we gratefully acknowledge permission to use a number 
of charts from Children and Youth at the Midcentury A Chart Book 
prepared by the Midcentury White House Conference on Children and 
Youth; published by Health Publications Institute, Inc., copyright, 1951, 
by Health Publications Institute, Inc., 216 North Dawson Street, Ra- 
leigh, North Carolina. 

We reaffirm our faith in the collaborative process; it is truly creative 
for those rugged enough to take it. Again, as in the earlier volume, not 
only the entire book, but every chapter in it, has been thought through, 
worked over, written, and rewritten by both Duvalls and Hills. In gen- 
eral, Evelyn Duvall is responsible for chapters i, 2, 3, 6, 9, 16, 17, 18, 
and 20; Reuben Hill for chapters 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 21; 
Sylvanus Duvall for chapters 11 and 19 and for some of the content 
and focus of Chapter 7. The revised edition is much the richer for the 
more mature contributions of both growing families that in the interval 
between the two editions have completed several stages of the family 
life cycle and have brought a wealth of family living to point up our 
professional orientation. 

When You Marry represents the active participation of two whole 
families who jointly dedicate this book to growing families everywhere. 

Evelyn Millis Duvall and Reuben HiU 


THIS book, exemplifying the functional approach to teaching marriage 
and family living, is timely. American youth by the hundreds of thou- 
sands are concerned as never before with problems of adjustment. The 
hasty marriages of wartime, disturbing wartime experiences, and separa- 
tion of husbands and wives have created problems of personal and 
marital readjustment which are taxing all our resources of knowledge, 
research, and skill in education and counseling. Equally important are 
the problems arising from the great number of marriages, as hostilities 
cease, of couples already engaged and of others who have postponed 

While there are several excellent books already available on prepa- 
ration for marriage, this new volume combines several distinctive fea- 
tures which make it particularly helpful. First, it presents the findings 
of recent research in several pertinent disciplines as they have practical 
application to the many adjustments to marriage and family living. 
Each chapter begins with the questions young people raise in the area 
to be discussed, and the material that follows is organized in the light 
of these concrete problems rather than in the traditional fashion. Any 
valid research finding, regardless of the specific scientific field of its 
origin, is applied to that particular problem in personal-family adjust- 
ment which it is most helpful in solving. 

Second, the readable and lively style of the book makes it usable not 
only for students of the family but also for all young people personally 
interested in getting married. Illustrations as visual aids are especially 
helpful in clarifying the material discussed and in focusing attention on 
major concepts. Numerous tests throughout the book are designed to 
assist the reader in self-checking his progress in comprehension. All in 
all, the book is admirably designed as an integral course in a program 
of general education; for use in discussion classes in colleges, schools, 
churches, settlements, and young people's associations; or as part of a 
community program of education for marriage and family living. 


Third, the book is exceptional in its wide coverage of interrelated 
fields and in their synthesis into a new educational approach. This 
quality derives from the interweaving of the backgrounds of experience 
of the authors and from the unique beginnings of the book in the com- 
bined thinking of many educators. 

This volume has an interesting and significant history. Its concep- 
tion occurred in the spring of 1943 when a committee of the American 
Council on Education was charged with developing a design for general 
education to meet the interests and the needs of men and women in 
the armed services. 1 This committee defined general education as "the 
type of education which the majority of our people must have if they 
are to be good citizens, parents, and workers," 2 and it Included in the 
fourteen courses proposed as a basic offering in general education one 
on Marriage and Family Adjustments. 

All fourteen courses were planned to be functional in the triple 
sense that they were devised to meet felt needs of the individual in pre- 
paring him for life, that they had a social emphasis in enabling him to 
discharge the privileges and obligations of citizenship in a democracy, 
and that they stressed integration of different fields of knowledge in 
application to significant life situations. 

The Subcommittee on Marriage and Family Adjustments appointed 
to outline the course in this area consisted of Mrs. Duvall, Dr. Hill, 
Dr. Oliver Ohmann, then of Western Reserve University, and the 
writer as chairman. The functional approach undertaken by our com- 
mittee may be illustrated by quoting from the published report of the 
statement of objectives of the proposed course on Marriage and Family 
Adjustments: 8 

General education should lead the individual as a citizen in a free society to 
think through the problems and to gain the basic orientation that will better 
enable him to make a satisfactory family and marital adjustment. In order 
to accomplish this purpose, the student should acquire the following: 

A. Knowledge and understanding of 

i The ways in which the American family differs from families in other 
countries and in earlier times 

1 A Design for General Education for Members of the Armed Forces, A Report 
of the Committee on a Design for General Education (Washington, D. C., American 
Council on Education, 1944). 

2 Quoted in the report from Earl J. McGrath, "General Education in the Post- 
war Period," The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 
Vol. 231 (1944), P- 74- 

3 A Design for General Education for Members of the Armed Forces, pp. 36-38. 


2 The trends in American society affecting the structure and functions 
of the family and the role of women and children in our society 

3 The personality make-up of the individual as it affects his relationships 
to friends and to members of the family 

4 The ways in which experiences in family life determine the personality 
development of the child 

5 The effects of the war on love, courtship, marriage, and family life 

6 The factors making for success in marriage 

7 The development of relationships of friendship and affection: dating, 
courtship, engagement, and marriage 

8 Major family crises and conflicts, and ways of meeting them 

9 The biological aspects of reproduction and of prenatal and postnatal 

10 Problems involved in earning and spending the family income 

11 Available resources for premarital, postmarital, and family counseling 
and education 

B. Skills and abilities 

1 Skill in meeting and cultivating members of the opposite sex in whole- 
some relationships 

2 Skill in resolving conflicts, hostilities, rejections, and overattachments 

3 Habits of discussion and cooperative planning in family situations 

4 Ability to relate oneself and family to the broader relationships of so- 
cial life, and to become identified with larger causes 

5 Ability to discharge parental responsibilities in child rearing 

6 Skill in planning ways of meeting the problem of in-laws and other 

7 Skill in household management, including the budgeting and spend- 
ing of the family income 

C. Attitudes and appreciations 

1 Realization and happiness in marriage and family life as a significant 
value, the achievement of which may be aided by preparation 

2 Appreciation of companionship as an essential element in the success 
of a marriage 

3 Recognition of democracy as a way of life to be realized in the family 
in relations of husband and wife and of parents and children 

4 Appreciation of family members as persons with needs and interests of 
their own 

5 Awareness of the importance of the prevention, early recognition, and 
treatment of marital discord and of behavior problems of children 

6 Appreciation of the role of religion in personal and family living 


The authors of this book, who had already served as two of the mem- 
bers of the committee that prepared the outline of the course, were 
asked to prepare a workbook to be used in conjunction with a textbook 
as the basis of a prospective course in the United States Armed Forces 
Institute. Although a course in Marriage and the Family has not yet 
been included in the program of the Institute, the authors were encour- 
aged, by indications of widespread interest in a course with the same 
objectives for all young people preparing for marriage, to write the pres- 
ent volume. 

The authors of When You Marry are unusually well qualified by 
their training and experience to prepare a volume meeting the present 
pressing needs and concerns of young people. Evelyn Millis Duvall 
has a thorough background in biology, and has completed her residence 
requirements for the doctor's degree in the field of human development, 
which is an integrated program of study including pertinent courses in 
anthropology, biology, economics, nutrition, psychiatry, psychology, and 
sociology. As director for eight years of the Association for Family 
Living she gained an understanding of the problems of young people 
of all social classes, and of ways of working with them in the discussion 
of their questions. Dr. Reuben Hill had his graduate training in so- 
ciology. Organizer and director for four years of the interdepartmental 
courses in marriage at the University of Wisconsin, with further experi- 
ence in the University of South Dakota, Iowa State College, and nu- 
merous informal collegiate situations, he has intimate knowledge of the 
problems of college youth and experience and skill in methods of teach- 
ing adapted to their interests. 

The authors have brought together their combined training and ex- 
perience in a collaboration that, through collective thinking, has pro- 
duced what may be considered a new integration both of material and 
of point of view. The book possesses a vital down-to-earth quality and, 
at the same time, scientific soundness and thoroughness that would not 
otherwise be possible. 

Ernest W. Burgess 








THREE DATING: Practice Makes Perfect 47 

FOUR BECOMING INVOLVED: The Courtship Process 71 



























INDEX 457 













He didn't learn that out of a book! 


What makes you YOU? 

How can children born and raised in the same family be so different? 

Can you hope to reform the person you marry? 

How does the past influence the present in your life? 


wardrobe? A nest egg in the bank? Some furniture you've inherited? 
A dependent relative or two? A good job and the prospect of advance- 
ment? Whatever your tangible assets or liabilities are, there is some- 
thing even more important: that is you as a personality, the way you act 
toward people and the attitudes which you bring to marriage. 

The kind of marriage you make depends upon the kind of person you 
are. If you are a happy, well-adjusted person, the chances are your mar- 
riage will be a happy one. If you have made adjustments so far with 
more satisfaction than distress, you are likely to make your marriage and 
family adjustments satisfactorily. If you are discontented and bitter 
about your lot in life, you will have to change before you can expect to 
live happily ever after. 

There was a time when people thought that unhappiness in marriage 
resulted primarily from a poor choice of a marriage partner, from some 
mysterious incompatibility in sex adjustment, from money troubles, or 
in-laws, or religious mix-ups, or some other chance circumstance. Sex is 
important. Whom you marry also makes a difference. Money troubles 
and in-law interference and religious differences all are part of the pic- 
ture. We'll look them all over soon. Right now let's get at the most 
important consideration, the personality bases for marriage. 


What Is Personality? 

Personality is not just an endowment which some people have and oth- 
ers lack. You are not born with a good or a bad personality. The at- 
tractive sparkle or the unfortunate habits which make you stand out 
from others are not a coincidence or a gift of the gods. The many as- 
pects of every personality are not accidental, but have causes and often 
elaborate histories. What makes you you depends upon years of re- 
sponding to life's situations. Your personality is made up of many 
things: the kind of body you started with, the type of home you were 
born into, the sort of people you have associated with, the way you have 
been brought up and the things you have learned, and most important 
of all, how you have felt and acted about them. Your personality is the 
sum total of the characteristic ways of feeling, responding, and behaving 
which determine your place in society. 

What You Started With. Although you were not born with a ready- 
made personality, many of the potentials of your personality were al- 
ready established at birth. You were born with a certain kind of body: 
it was fat or thin, strong or weak, active or quiet, responsive or relatively 
insensitive. Your personality is affected greatly by such factors as en- 
ergy output, drive, push, and indefatigability. There is a physical basis 
to personality. 

People are born with a capacity for responding to situations with 
varying degrees of mental alertness. Environment can do little for idiots 
and similar defectives, but even the poorest surroundings cannot black 
out the brilliance of a genius. Even though the great majority of us fall 
somewhere between these two extremes, our capacities are usually so 
much greater than our use of them that we can get little scientific en- 
couragement for attributing our personal failures to a low IQ. Recent 
studies have indicated that these native talents of ours are greatly in- 
fluenced by the stimuli for growth they receive and by our active will- 
ingness to cultivate them. 

You were born a boy or a girl. This fact has far more than a biologi- 
cal significance. Whether you are going to grow up to be a man or a 
woman, a husband or a wife, a father or a mother, does not mean nearly 
as much as does your early acceptance of yourself for what you are. An 
American girl of today no longer needs to apologize for her sex. In 
certain societies, however, being born a girl would have meant the end 


of her right then and there. Even now, the fifth girl born in a family 
of girls longing for a boy cannot be guaranteed the welcome and the 
feeling of importance and personal security that a long-sought girl baby 
in another family might have. Being born a girl in a family where 
mother finds womanhood satisfying, or a boy in a family where father 
relishes being a man, adds to the biological heritage of sex the impor- 
tant element of sex acceptance that is so vital for good personal and 
marriage adjustment. 

Oldest, Youngest, or in Between. You were born into your family with 
a special place all your own. No other brother or sister came into and 
grew up in the same family constellation that you entered. If you were 
the oldest you had a unique place in your parents' life for a period of 
time. When younger brothers or sisters came along you were faced 
with your first powerful threat of deprivation. You had to share your 
parents and your home with the newcomers. Were you the youngest 
in a large family? Then yours was inevitably the place of the baby of 
the family, with all the others ahead of you in age and size and power 
and protectiveness. If you were somewhere between the oldest and the 
youngest, yours was the problem of stretching ahead to the older ones, 
while you hung back at times to play with those younger than you. 
Only children, although not as spoiled as popular opinion so often gen- 
eralizes them to be, live in an entirely different family set-up from the 
youngster who shares his home life with brothers or sisters. Children 
who arrive long after the parents' marriage come into a far more stable 
but rigid family than do those who come while parents are still getting 
acquainted and getting used to the idea of being married. Where and 
when you came into your family gave you a unique place with its own 
assets and liabilities. 

Your Status in fhe Community. You were born with a place in the com- 
munity. By being a member of your family, you shared their status in 
the neighborhood, the community, and the world. As a child in a 
minister's home in the Middle West, or of a tenant farmer's family in 
Georgia, or of an old-line Boston family, you took on the distinctive 
marks of their particular way of living and became a citizen of their 
world. Being born across the tracks or on the hill, being born a Negro 
or a white, an Oriental or an Indian, coming from parents whose home- 
land is far away or from folk whose forebears migrated to this country 


several generations ago, makes a difference in the status of the individ- 
ual within the community. 


Working class people drop out of school earlier x 
Middle class people get more education x 

Working class people go to work sooner 2 

Middle class people start work later at more highly skilled levels 2 

Working class people wean babies at later ages 2 
Middle class people wean babies earlier 2 

Working class people toilet train babies later 2 
Middle class people toilet train babies earlier 2 

Working class people expect their children to be neat, clean, and "manner- 

able" (traditional conception) 3 
Middle class people more frequently want their children to grow at own 

rate, to learn, to be happy (developmental conception) 3 

Working class people believe mother's job is to wash, cook, clean, and keep 

house 8 
Middle class people more often say that a good mother should put empha- 

sis on development of children and self 8 

Working class people have fewer troubles but weather them less well 4 
Middle class people have more troubles but weather them better * 

Working class people are more promiscuous before marriage 5 
Middle class people have less premarital sex intercourse 5 

Working class people are more direct in sex response 6 

Middle class people have less direct sex response, more petting 6 

1 W. Lloyd Warner, Robert J. Havighurst, and Martin Loeb, Who Shall Be 
Educated? (New York: Harper, 1944). 

2 W. Allison Davis and Robert J. Havighurst, Father of the Man (Boston: 
Houghton Mifflin, 1947). 

3 Evelyn Millis Duvall, "Conceptions of Parenthood," American Journal of So- 
ciology (November, 1946), LII, No. 3, pp. 193-203. 

4 Earl Lomon Koos, "Class Differences in Family Reactions to Crises," Mar- 
riage and Family Living (Summer, 1950), XII, No. *, pp. 77-78. 

5 Alfred C. Kinsey, Wardell B. Pomeroy, and Clyde E. Martin, Sexual Behavior 
in the Human Male (Philadelphia: Saunders, 1948), Chap. 10. 


With Better Home, School, Medical Care, 
Johnny Could Have Been Jimmy 

From The Races of Mankind by Ruth Benedict and Gene Weltfish (Public Affairs Committee, Inc.) 

Research studies such as those reported in sum on page 6 have been 
numerous in the twentieth century. They show clearly that each of us 
has a given status in the community that we recognize and that those 
who know us place us in; and that furthermore, much of what we do 
and think and feel and want and become is determined in part by the 
social class to which we belong. 

Many of us become aware early in childhood of distinctions in status 
and try to better our situation. The wife who nags her husband to 
make something of himself, the husband who insists upon his wife get- 
ting into a smart social set, the couple sacrificing to get ahead, all are 
driven to be better off than they are. Often the reason for selecting a 
certain marriage partner may be little more than that he or she is a 
means of stepping up the social ladder, as those who joke about marry- 
ing the boss's daughter so well recognize. The drive to climb the social 
ladder is a motivating force and is often the basis of ambition and the 
source of conflict. 

Becoming Human. We learn the fundamentals of social living through 
interaction with other people. We learn from them how to get and 
eat food, how to get around, to use tools and machines, to respond to 
people and act appropriately in many situations. These learnings would 
not be possible, of course, without the essential biological equipment 
which it takes to be human. Consider the house cat he lives for 
years in close association with people, yet he grows old and dies still 


a cat. Even though a fond mistress dubs him one of the family, he is 
forever limited by the fact that his own parents were feline and is 
thereby classed forever in the cat family regardless of his residence. 

Many of our assets as persons come to us as members of the human 
family. We walk upright; our hands have amazing dexterity; our eyes 
and the flexibility of our bodies make it possible for us to know what is 
going on; we have voices that are the last word in communication and 
ears that are built for good reception; we have good heads on our shoul- 
ders and a long childhood in which to learn the complexities of human 
behavior. All these and more are ours, simply because we were born 
with human potentialities. 

But it takes more than biological inheritance to make us truly hu- 
man. Studies of children reared away from human society reveal that 
we obtain a great many of our characteristics from associating with 
other human beings. Gesell 6 has told us of a baby girl who strayed 
from her mother early in her infancy and lived for years in a friendly 
wolf den. When she was brought back to human society, she could 
not walk upright or talk or laugh or express affection or carry on any of 
the human activities which we take for granted in human children. She 
howled and prowled like a wolf in the stillness of the night and until 
her death acted more like a wolf than a child. 

Another study 7 indicates that isolation from human companionship 
results in marked backwardness and deprives the child of the opportu- 
nities of learning those roles and habits which we think of as making up 
personality: the ways of responding to situations, the habits and feelings 
which make human personality unique. Such evidence supports the es- 
tablished theory of personality development, that personality develops 
mainly through contact and communication with other persons. 8 

You bring to marriage the particular set of habits and customs of 
your home-town folk. A child of the Tennessee mountains learns the 
ways of the hills and brings those patterns to marriage. The city child 

6 Arnold Gesell, "Biography of a Wolf -Child," Harper's Magazine (January, 

7 Kingsley Davis, "Extreme Social Isolation in a Child," American Journal of 
Sociology, Vol. 45, pp. 554-565. 

8 This concept of personality development has been developed through the first 
four decades of the twentieth century by a number of students, notably, C. H. Coo- 
ley, Human Nature and the Social Order (1902), Social Organization (1909); John 
Dewey, Human Nature and Conduct (1922), Experience and Nature (1925); 
George H. Mead, Mind, Self, and Society (1934); and Ellsworth Paris, The Nature 
of Human Nature (1937) 


learns another set of folkways and operates in conformity to them. By 
and large the freer the communication with the greater number of peo- 
ple, the more elaborate is the personality development and the more 
complex the marriage relationship. 

CHECK YOURSELF There are correct and incorrect ways of using the term "personality." 

Check each of the following statements as true or false according to 
the description of personality used by the authors in this chapter. 

1 Personality is a kind of inherited charm. 

2 Anyone who wants to can be a fascinating personality. 

3 Some people are born with personality. 

4 Your personality is the sum total of the characteristic ways of behaving, 

feeling, and responding that determine your place in society. 

5 Everyone is born with the same chance for developing a lovely person- 

6 Brothers and sisters should rightly have the same kind of personality since 

they are born into the same family. 

7 If you had been born a member of the other sex you would still have had 

your same personality. 

8 In the last analysis every personality is self-made. 

9 Personality grows out of family living and rubbing elbows with people 

outside the family. 

10 All you have to do is take a course in charm to become the kind of per- 
sonality you would like to be. 

* KEY 01 '8 'L '9 'S ' 'Z 'I :a spd 6 > : 

Who Am I? 

As soon as a child learns the difference between "I" and "others," he 
begins to explore the question, "Who am I?" 9 This adventure into the 
self continues throughout the lifetime of the person, coloring many of 
his actions and determining much of his personality. When the child 
is still very small he learns that he feels different in different situations, 
and that people expect him to behave and to be different as the occa- 
sion demands. He may be messy with his sand but not with his pud- 
ding. He may hit a ball but not his baby sister. He may urinate but 
only in prescribed places. Although there is some agreement among 

9 For more extensive treatments of the rise of the self, see Kimball Young, Per- 
sonality and Problems of Adjustment (New York: Crofts, 1940), Chap. 9, and Erik 
Erikson, Childhood and Society (New York: Norton, 1950). 


his family about such things, in other areas he finds a considerable vari- 
ety of treatment. He may be mother's darling baby and be expected to 
be sweet, cuddly, and affectionate when he is with her. His father may 
expect him to be a little man, keeping a stiff upper lip when he is hurt, 
not being soft or mushy but showing a sturdy self-control. To his older 
sister he may be a pest who will very probably be naughty, get into her 
things, and play the role of general nuisance. To his Sunday school 
teacher he may be the little angel who passes the hymn books and sings 
on key. The children next door may run when they see him coming 
because he is so rough when he plays with them. To each of these peo- 
ple he is a different person. All of these roles are part of his rapidly de- 
veloping personality. This multiplicity begins early in his development, 
and its elaboration as he grows older makes for the familiar contra- 
dictions of personality. These earlier impersonations, assumed in the 
child's first experience with people in the family, set the general out- 
lines of the behavior which he brings to marriage. If his family love 
him and make him feel like a big boy capable of doing great things and 
being a fine acceptable person, he will be able to make a more successful 
adjustment in his marriage. If, on the other hand, in his early experi- 
ences he is made to feel that he is dirty, bad, inferior, he may carry these 
feelings of unworthiness right into marriage and beyond, unless he is 
helped along the way to a more adequate acceptance of himself. 

Masculinity-Femininity Learnings. You were born male or female, but 
you learn to be masculine or feminine. 10 The first are biological in- 
heritances; the second are ways of behaving as a member of a sex group. 
The masculine or feminine habits are learned first in childhood and be- 
come more and more complicated as the child grows into adulthood and 
gets ready to be married. 

People used to say that children imitate adults. Now it seems that 
something stronger than imitation is at work impelling them so whole- 
heartedly to take over the behavior of others. As an individual finds 
people who embody the characteristics that he is seeking for himself, he 
tends to become deeply attached to them and tries out their ways of 
behavior. This process of identification starts very early in childhood. 
As the little boy admires the superior strength and power of his father, 

10 See Amram Scheinfeld, Women and Men (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 
1944), and Margaret Mead, Male and Female (New York: Morrow, 1949). 


he identifies himself with him and acts out his own interpretation of 
the grown-up man. He throws out his chest and struts like his daddy. 
He wears his father's hat and rubbers. He sits in daddy's chair with 
daddy's pipe in his mouth. He opens the door for his mother as he 
sees his father do, kisses her good-by, plays the man of the house as he 
senses the part to be, and acts out through the years the patterns of 
masculinity he sees his father following. 

Similarly, little girls trot around after their mothers, wanting to wipe 
dishes when mother does, helping to sweep and dust, talking over the 
telephone in the same tone of voice, and often telling the same little 
stories that they hear mother telling. A little girl goes through the many 
motions of being a mother as she disciplines her dolls, dresses up, goes 
calling, and puts on tea parties. She takes over many of her mother's 
attitudes toward the man of the house and often openly welcomes her 
mother's absence so that she can set the table and take care of father. 
All this time she is building the basic attitudes of her role as a woman 
which she is to bring to marriage. 

In childhood we begin to practice being the kinds of men and women 
we are to become, and at the same time begin to formulate our ideas 
and feelings about what we can expect of others. A girl who is fond of 
her strong, protective daddy develops a faith in men parallel to the fear 
of men which is learned by the girl whose father is harsh. The boy 
whose mother is kind, encouraging, and loving is a great deal more likely 
to appreciate women than is the man who fears them because his mas- 
culinity was undermined by a mother too ready to punish him. We 
learn out of our experience with these first adults both what seems to be 
expected of us as members of our sex and what we feel we can expect of 
people in general. 

People do what is expected of them, if they can. The lad who is 
told that little boys don't cry when they are hurt, that boys must fight 
for their rights, who sees his father confirming these lessons in his ac- 
tions, is learning what it means to be a man. If his father is a ne'er-do- 
well and if his mother and other influential persons try to teach him to 
be different by scolding him for being "just like your father," he faces 
the difficult task of choosing which type of man he is going to be the 
type he has been identifying himself with, his real father, or the type he 
is being urged to become, the opposite of his father. 


Our conception of the ideal woman is changing so rapidly girls can't 
be blamed for being confused. The girl who sees her mother getting 
what she wants by crying for it, and being comforted in her tears, learns 
that it is all right for a girl to cry; indeed, that it is the way to get along 
as a woman. Then as she grows older and begins to admire other 
women who get their satisfactions through rugged determination or 
more straight-forward approaches, she perceives other ways of playing 
the feminine role. Her choice of the kind of woman she is to become 
depends first of all on the type of person she is, where her deepest satis- 
factions lie, and how she is rewarded and punished as she tries first one 
and then another pattern. Many girls find it impossible to select from 
the contradictory alternatives a feminine role with which they can be 
happy. Happy is the girl who knows the kind of woman she wants to 
be before marriage, because it is in marriage that femininity receives its 
greatest test. 

Our Human Needs 

Certain universal hungers run through the course of human living. So 
powerful and so insistent are these that they cannot be denied without 
distorting or impoverishing the personality. These needs have been 
widely discussed and frequently catalogued. Whatever they are called 
or however they are listed, they remain the great universal needs that 
are sought by human beings everywhere. 

Our physical needs announce themselves so specifically and unmis- 
takably that they are widely recognized. The need for food is recog- 
nized immediately by feelings of hunger. Need for water manifests it- 
self promptly in thirst. Organic demands for rest, exercise, elimination, 
relief from pain and tension, tolerable temperature, and oxygen vary 
in the intensity and specificity of their manifestations, yet are quite 
generally understood. Our attitude toward these physical needs is 
one of general acceptance. When we are hungry we eat, when 
tired we sleep, when thirsty we drink, all without embarrassment or 

Emotional requirements are neither so well recognized nor so ac- 
cepted. Deprivations of emotional satisfactions may not show up im- 
mediately, and when they do they may appear in any one of many highly 
individual forms. Behavior directed toward satisfaction of emotional 


needs is often subtly indirect rather than obviously direct. It usually 
looks toward persons rather than toward things. Hence, it is more diffi- 
cult to understand and to accept. 

A hungry man eats without question. But an affection-starved fel- 
low may aggressively demand attention, or he may hit his child who 
seems to be directing his wife's attention away from himself, or he may 
sulk or argue or slam out of the door or throw a temper tantrum; he 
may refuse to eat, or, rarely, he may take the more direct approach and 
cuddle up to be kissed. Any or all of these behavior expressions of his 
needs may be unrecognized or ignored by all but the highly sensitive 
wife. Indeed, he may be further deprived by being punished for actions 
not acceptable to his wife. So his hunger goes unsatisfied, and he, just 
as needful as before, makes his adjustment around his deprivation. Pro- 
longed or intense neglect of emotional hungers distorts the personality. 
Patterns of hostility or discouragement or both develop when the per- 
son feels chronically that he must fight for what he wants in a hostile 

Learning to recognize and meet satisfactorily the emotional needs of 
each other is a challenge for married couples. Although there are dif- 
ferences among individuals, two types of emotional needs are so univer- 
sal that they are common to all of us: the need for love and the need 
for a sense of personal worth. 

We Need Love. Love is not just an adornment of life about which 
we sing and toward which we turn as we begin to go dating. We need 
love throughout all our lives. Love is as necessary for us as is sun- 
shine and fresh air for the tomato. With love and full acceptance we 
flourish, and grow strong and happy; without them we develop fears 
and other symptoms of ill health. As Dr. Benjamin Spock says n "this 
is not just sentimental talk. It is a fact that infants who have long been 
starved for company and affection . . . may wither in body and spirit. 
They lose all joy in doing things and seeing people. . . . Such tragedies 
are rare. But they prove that love is as vital as calories. . . ." 

Children recognize many ways of being loved. They warm to moth- 
er's words of approval and try even harder to be worthy of her love. 
They watch for signs of affection on the faces of those around them and 
direct most of their activities toward winning and holding adult com- 

11 Benjamin Spock, M.D., Keynote Address, Midcentury White House Confer- 
ence on Children and Youth, Washington, 1950. 


mendations. Their need for reassurance is most evident, however, when 
they have done something wrong or when they are sick or hurt. 

The need for love is so strong that half-way measures rarely satisfy. 
We often hear a mother tell her child, "Mother loves you when you are 
good/' She little realizes when she does this that she is threatening the 
child with the withdrawal of her love. Vulnerable as he is, the child 
will hang on tenaciously or abandon his struggle for her love completely, 
since it is withdrawn so easily. Actually, every child needs the affection 
of his parents whether or not he has earned it. When he is bad or 
when he displeases them he needs their love more than ever. Being 
loved for what he is rather than for what he does makes him feel in- 
cluded and reassures him that he belongs no matter what. 

Adolescents pass through many love-hungry days yearning for a more 
adult variety of love than is available. The satisfactions of earlier days 
are no longer so accessible. As legs grow long, the snuggling and cud- 
dling forms of loving are no longer feasible. Adolescents dodge their 
mother's caresses at the time when they want them most, and protest 
their sister's kisses with a vigor which implies their need for love. Yet 
it will be years before they are permitted the full affectional responses 
of adults in marriage. Adolescence is a period of striving for affection 
and acceptance characterized by inconsistency and frustration. (See 
the discussion of adolescent-parent interaction in Chapter Seventeen.) 

Adults are more fortunate in finding the means of satisfying their 
need for love. Within the intimacies of marriage and in the parent- 
child relation there is opportunity to supply the strongest wishes for in- 
timate response. There is, however, a two-way quality to love that is 
essential for complete fulfillment. It isn't enough to be loved; one must 
feel free to love others without fear of being rebuffed. Members of the 
minority groups in America, Negroes, Indians, Orientals, and others, 
may be loved by their intimate friends but find themselves so inhibited 
in affectional expressions outside their own circles that they feel chroni- 
cally deprived. Likewise, unattractive persons fight the haunting fear 
of not being fully acceptable and may suppress their friendly tendencies 
toward others after many uncomfortable rebuffs. Men and women fear- 
ing that their expressions of interest in the other sex may be misinter- 
preted as philandering suppress them so completely that their full needs 
for response often go unsatisfied. A few unusually emancipated persons 
respond so forthrightly to others that they are able to express their af- 


faction for many persons without being misunderstood or misinter- 
preted. 12 

These patterns of affectional response are learned throughout a per- 
son's lifetime. The general outlines are laid down in childhood when 
the person first begins to respond to others. If his responses are ac- 
cepted and reciprocated he learns that it is safe and good to love and be 
loved, and as he grows older his skills in being warm and friendly in- 
crease. As he is neglected or abused or ignored or repelled, he shrinks 
back into himself or lashes out toward others in ways that protect his 
hurt ego but fail to satisfy his need. Later reassurances from friends, 
sweethearts, and mate can gradually rekindle his desire to respond fully 
and freely again, but the retraining period is often long. The emotion- 
ally starved individual is rarely a good marital risk; for even though he 
needs love desperately, he has been without it so long that his own de- 
fenses are apt to repudiate it. The art of loving is learned through 
years of practice in loving and being loved. And like the starving man 
who cannot assimilate a full meal at once but must be fed slowly, in 
small quantities, so the emotionally deprived must be patiently recon- 
ditioned to full adult love. Grandmother recognized that she shouldn't 
marry a man to reform his habits. Today it is known that marrying an 
unhappy, lonely person in the hope of making him or her happy is 
equally discouraging. The old patterns of adjusting are so deeply en- 
trenched that only exceptional skill and infinite patience can bring about 
satisfactory reconditioning. 

In summary, we see that we all need to love and to be loved. The ex- 
pression of this need changes as we mature and as we learn more satis- 
fying ways of meeting it. We may or may not express directly the de- 
sire to be loved. Our affectional hungers often go unmentioned and 
unsatisfied only to betray themselves in inappropriate tantrums and ex- 
cessive demands on others. But the ability to love fully and genuinely 
is so important that those married partners who have mastered it find 
fundamental satisfactions in their marriage that other less skilled per- 
sons lack, regardless of how well they may be matched otherwise. 

We Need a Sense of Personal Worth. A need which parallels the need 
for love is the desire to feel that one is worthy of respect. Other people 

12 This problem is discussed in considerable detail in Chapter Seven, "Does 
Morality Make Sense?" pp. 129-149. See especially section on "Responsive In- 


set the standards by which self-appraisal is made, but it is pretty much 
up to the individual to say which of the goals shall be his to attain. 
Whatever the realm of achievement may be, he needs to feel that he is 
a growing, progressing person. 

In infancy there is ample evidence of rapid growth and motor devel- 
opment. The first undirected leg and foot movements are preliminary 
to those which propel the baby across the floor in creeping movements. 
That first thrilling moment when, by holding onto a chair, he first stands 
erect and looks his world over from the vertical rather than the horizon- 
tal plane is but the threshold of the adventure of learning to walk. Mo- 
tor development is remarkable creeping, walking, jumping; riding a 
tricycle, a scooter, a bicycle; then the first exciting attempts at the wheel 
of the family car! 

Building skills also bring their satisfactions. Whether the media be 
cookie dough or soft pine lumber, clay or engine parts, erector sets or 
radio equipment, the satisfaction of making something spurs us on and 
brings to many a keen sense of progress. While one child finds his sat- 
isfaction in using his hands and in getting around, another may find 
greater pleasure in precocious mental achievements. The Quiz Kids are 
not only unusually bright youngsters; every one of them has grown up 
in a home where learning has brought unusually keen satisfactions. 

Evidence of the need to feel growth is seen in the popularity of such 
mental sparring games as quiz shows, popular versions of psychological 
tests, and crossword puzzles. The reason that many men keep golf 
scores so religiously is that the opportunity to measure their present per- 
formance with some past achievement gives them pleasure. To feel the 
power of growth within oneself is a magnificent sensation. To look 
over the past five or ten years and see how far one has come in the ability 
to get along with people, in the development of a satisfying hobby, in 
performance in one's business or profession, gives keen satisfaction that 
is its own reward. 

The lack of this sense of personal worth is seen in the multitude of 
weary-eyed wanderers who, losing faith in themselves, lose faith in oth- 
ers and in life itself. The beaten, hangdog attitude which anticipates 
failure more often than not finds it. On the other hand, the man who 
brings to marriage the rewards of years of achievement and growth 
brings with him the faith that he can work out marriage adjustments as 
they arise, an attribute to weigh heavily in married life. 


Modes of Adjusting to Unmet Needs. Methods of meeting unmet 
needs are so standardized that psychologists have given them the name 
mechanisms. These modes of adjustment are for the most part substi- 
tutive, and rest on willingness to accept something less than the real 
thing. There are two general types, escape and the defense mecha- 

The escape mechanisms are all characterized by displacement of at- 
tention away from the unhappy situation which produced the frustra- 
tion, and are most frequently carried over from childhood patterns of 
adjustment. The schoolboy expresses the values of escape when he 
chants, "He who ducks and runs away lives to duck another day." The 
trouble is that running away becomes a habit and takes up more time 
and emotional energy than the original situation warranted. There are 
some crises from which one should escape, but they are far fewer than 
our poorly trained emotions would have us believe. Standing up to life, 
understanding what the problem is and accepting it, develops the men- 
tal stamina which is needed in marriage. Escape mechanisms enable 
the individual to alleviate the pain of frustration temporarily but do 
nothing about meeting his long-time needs. There are many forms of 
escape, the most frequent of which are: 

1 Daydreaming or fantasy, in which the problem is solved by forgetting it; 
building air castles in which there are no problems of any consequence. 

2 Walking out on the problem or running away from it, refusing to talk 
about it, passing the buck. 

3 Retiring into oneself, being with the group but not of it, developing seclu- 
siveness, withdrawing from contacts. 

4 Regressing to infantile levels, backsliding to simpler or earlier forms of be- 
havior which brought attention and satisfaction: bed-wetting, thumb suck- 
ing, temper tantrums, refusal to eat, and so on. 

5 Becoming sick, developing illnesses that come from mental more than 
physical causes: headaches, stomach troubles, tics, and other troubles 
which enable the afflicted to run away from some difficulty. 

The defense mechanisms are modes of adjustment by which the per- 
son bolsters himself when he feels threatened or inadequate. The in- 
dividual is faced with a need, but as he reaches out to satisfy it he is 
frustrated by an obstacle or force which proves too great for him. In- 
stead of making a direct attack on the obstacle he allows himself to be 


maneuvered into taking something less than the real thing; he may pre- 
tend he didn't want the need satisfied anyway, or may even deny the 
existence of the need. The defense mechanisms all have one generic 
factor in common : they all enable the individual using them to prove to 
himself that there is nothing wrong with him and that the entire blame 
for his difficulties can be placed elsewhere. The defense mechanisms 
most frequently observed include: 

1 Compensation, making up for a lack by overworking one's strengths, at- 
taining satisfaction by enjoyment in a substitutive activity. 

2 Rationalization, giving "good" excuses for one's behavior instead of the 
real ones, justifying and defending mistakes as if they were wise decisions. 
Rationalization is accomplished in a variety of ways: 

a. Being a Pollyanna, pretending that everything is wonderful. 

b. Taking a sour-grapes attitude, pretending you don't want to succeed. 

c. Projecting your failure on others, seeing in them the weakness you are 
trying to cover up in yourself. 

3 Negativism, resisting domination, a common form of defending oneself. 

These mechanisms, sometimes conscious, sometimes unconscious so- 
lutions to problem situations, are rarely effective, because they are modes 
of adjustment by subterfuge and substitution and do not really bring the 
craved satisfactions. Pretending that you don't like boys when you don't 
have a date doesn't give you a partner for the evening nor prepare you 
to be more winsome another time. Nor is there any gain in blaming 
your lack of popularity on your mother, your clothes, or your roommate. 
Staying in and dreaming about being a pin-up girl with men flocking 
around you may be one way to spend the evening, but it doesn't get you 
a date to the prom. Similarly, every other mechanism tends to dodge 
the really effective ways of reaching the goals that you are striving to 

Confident persons develop the conviction that problems lend them- 
selves to solution and choose direct ways of satisfying their needs. They 
are able to admit to themselves that they are hungry or lonely or angry 
and then deal with the situation in an acceptable way. The direct ap- 
proach is learned through success in past forthrightness; it not only 
brings release for the moment but also establishes the habit of direct 
satisfaction that assures good marriage adjustment. 


Growing Up as a Person 

How grown up are you? Are you mature enough for marriage? You 
may be legally of age, but how about your emotional age? You grow 
up in many different ways, physically, mentally, and emotionally, and 
the rate of growth is not uniform. Some growth is regular, predictable, 
and almost unalterable, whereas some is sporadic and irregular. 

Chronologically, one year from today we will be exactly one year 
older, regardless of what happens. We may suffer a severe illness, move 
across the country, get married, or just stay put, but nothing will change 
the regularity of our chronological aging. 

Physically our growth within certain broad limits is regular and pre- 
dictable. Taking into consideration wide individual differences, human 
development experts can accurately plot the whole timetable of growth 
from conception through senility. Heredity gets the ball rolling, diet 
and other environmental circumstances keep it going. Speaking of 
physical growth only, no man can add a cubit to his stature by willing it. 

Mentally we move forward with new experiences and then settle 
onto plateaus of learning which break as we move on to the next level 
of growth. This staircase type of development seems to be far more 
rapid in our infancy when we are busy mastering the fundamentals of 
communication, locomotion, and general exploration than it is later on. 
Studies indicate that even while we are at the preschool age, mental 
growth is affected by our feelings about ourselves and the nature of our 
surroundings. 13 As we find life challenging and feel that we are able to 
master it, we learn rapidly and maintain a sustained pattern of mental 
growth. When we feel stumped or frustrated we may quit trying and 
stagnate at a level below our true capacity. The indications are that na- 
tive intelligence is greatly influenced by position in society, by assured 
opportunities, by where we live and how we interpret life's opportuni- 
ties. Thus the lower class lad with a high native IQ may not achieve 
the intellectual growth of an upper middle class fellow with very aver- 
age native ability, because of the limitations in the values, expectations, 
and opportunities under which he operates. 

Emotionally our growth is highly individual. No other area of 
growth is more irregular and unpredictable. Some adults are more in- 

18 George Stoddard, The Meaning of Intelligence (New York: Macmillan, 
1 943)PP- 345 347-392. 


fantile emotionally than children whole generations younger. Some 
emotional responses may develop far ahead of others because habits of 
responding to situations grow out of experience. Where there are op- 
portunities for learning how to handle a specific situation in compe- 
tent fashion, the person builds satisfactory emotional habits with re- 
gard to it. Because emotional development comes through contacts 
with others, it can be traced through the stages of social growth that 

Sfages in Social Growth. As infants we were limited to the hazy 
world of feelings and sensations. We hadn't been anywhere yet. Our 
eyes focused poorly. We didn't understand what we heard. All was 
strange and new and unknown. Our own bodies occupied us entirely 
at first. We felt hungry and cold and uneasy and lashed out with kicks 
and screams, our whole squirming body expressing our uneasiness. We 
expressed our pleasure over food and warmth and a sense of well-being 
by cooing, gurgling, and kicking out with lusty enthusiasm. 

1 Receiving. All this time we were entirely on the receiving end of 
things. We swallowed the milk that was put into our mouths. We 
slept and wakened and thrashed about without direction or purpose. 
When we became hungry we were quite intolerant, entirely unaware of 
the circumstances that made for delays in our feeding. Those first re- 
sponses to life were explosive. By uncontrolled outcries we demanded 
our own satisfactions without regard for others. Many of us could point 
out situations in adult life which evoke the self-centered "gimme" atti- 
tude of the infant. 

2 Manipulation. We were not many weeks old before we learned 
that there was a relationship between what we did and the satisfactions 
we enjoyed. We learned that our cries brought mother to comfort us. 
We discovered that our coos brought father in to play with us. By 
trial and error we found out what it took to get others to yield to our 
demands. A little later we developed elaborate systems of teasing, brib- 
ing, and coaxing as means of getting people to do what we wanted them 
to do. One baby learned to depend upon her dimples and sweet ways, 
while another, feeling less sure that her world was a friendly one, lashed 
out in temper tantrums when things didn't go her way. The child is 
supported in any of his manipulations if it is apparent that satisfactions 
are regularly forthcoming. 


Too often adults try to get more of what they want by getting around 
friends and influencing people. This childish mode of emotional and 
social adjustment is everywhere apparent both in public and private life, 
and is evident in the many efforts husbands and wives make to manipu- 
late and control their partners. Fortunately, many children outgrow 
these attempts to manage others, and before they reach school age are 
already practicing more grown-up forms of adaptation. 

3 Compromise. When we were old enough to get hold of toys that 
belonged to others we trod on their rights, and trouble was brewing. 
The baby tricks that brought the family to our cradle lost their potency 
in the rough and tumble of more grown-up family interplay. Mother 
showed her disapproval of continual wet panties, so we tried to win her 
smile and avoid her scowl by keeping dry. We sensed the size and 
strength of our all-powerful parents and tried to win their favor by the 
kind of behavior they asked of us. Our brothers and sisters had to be 
won over by some recognition of their rights. If we wanted to play 
with Jimmy's fire engine, he must be convinced of the desirability of 
playing with our Kiddie Kar. This familiar "you do this for me and I'll 
do that for you" type of compromise is more mature than simple ma- 
nipulation, since it recognizes the values and interests of the other. It 
is widespread in adult society and runs through much of marital adap- 
tation. Yet it leaves much to be desired in comparison with more co- 
operative patterns of interaction such as sharing and creative coopera- 

4 Sharing. When Jimmy with his fire engine and Johnny with his 
Kiddie Kar join forces and wheel noisily down the walk in a two-man 
parade, they are already feeling something that is more fun than merely 
taking turns and exchanging their equipment. They are beginning to 
find the satisfactions of sharing which will be rediscovered in games, 
sports, and other activities that revolve around common values. Play- 
ing farmer in the dell and drop the handkerchief may not sound like 
fun to an adult, but such games were once exciting entrees into sharing 
with others, a variety of social enjoyment that is not found in solitary 

Sharing as a method of social adjustment starts in the family circle 
and continues on into adulthood. As we learri to note and respect the 
needs of others and to pool our resources with theirs in the pursuit of 


mutually satisfying values, we are beginning to enjoy the full richness of 
interrelationships that may be achieved by emotionally mature adults. 

5 Creative Cooperation. Beyond the satisfactions of personal shar- 
ing lie the rewards of joining forces with others for the pursuit of inter- 
ests that are bigger than any one of the cooperating partners. The 
couple that has found the joy of working together in community affairs 
taps deep wells of satisfaction that quench the thirst of loneliness. 
The family that lives for something beyond its own immediate wants 
and throws its resources into creative social projects not only gets more 
out of life as it goes along, but also helps each of its members attain the 
kind of maturity that assures them of successful human interrelation- 

Phil and Mary were such a couple. When they finished medical 
college they married and moved to a Southern mountain community, 
where they set up a much-needed hospital and clinic service. They 
worked shoulder to shoulder through the years. As their children came, 
they too became part of the project. Personal and family disputes were 
ironed out relatively easily, because there were always more serious things 
to be done together. One by one the children grew up and went on 
to college, into marriage, and on into their own vocations. Scattered 
around the world, they still keep in touch with each other and with the 
home folks. Phil and Mary had built their marriage on the basis of in- 
terest in and devotion to a common purpose. Their children grew up 
prepared in turn to establish sound marriages, and they found, in the 
example of their parents, that success in marriage comes from throwing 
themselves wholeheartedly into meaningful programs outside them- 
selves. Seven new families now carry on the tradition of creative co- 
operation of losing themselves in something bigger than themselves. 

Self-centered people often expect marriage to be a case of "they lived 
happily ever after/' They frequently demand personal satisfactions to 
the exclusion of the larger needs of the marriage and of themselves. 
They are often too infantile to lose themselves in values larger than 
those of the immediate present. Professor Terman 14 in a study of the 
most frequently mentioned grievances of husbands and wives found 
most of them to be of the infantile order of social-emotional responses: 
"selfish and inconsiderate," "complains too much," "not affectionate," 

14 Lewis M. Terman and associates, Psychological Factors in Marital Happi- 
ness (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1938) , p. 105. 


"insincere," "criticizes me," "argumentative," and so on. We conclude 
from the foregoing that socialization needs to be carried to the level of 
sharing and creative cooperation to produce personalities that will be 
best equipped for marriage. Marriage is not child's play but requires 
the values, habits, and attitudes of adults, and its satisfactions are for 
those who are emotionally ready to enjoy them. 

Fulfillment of Needs through Changing Appetites. Maturity doesn't 
mean that we are all set. As long as we live we continue to grow. As we 
develop, our adjustments to others change, as we have just seen. We 
tend to give more of ourselves and to demand less of others. Yet 
throughout the whole life span we have needs that other people satisfy. 

All living things have to get substances and energies necessary for 
growth from their surroundings. A tomato plant must have the proper 
soil and sun and moisture in order to grow at its best. A puppy must 
be given plenty of chance to suck and to chew, and must be kept warm 
and allowed to sleep and play, if it is to develop into a healthy, com- 
fortable animal. Children as well as older people have needs that must 
be satisfied if they are to be healthy, strong, and happy. Many of these 
needs continue for a lifetime and are common to all people everywhere. 
Other needs are modified as the person grows older. Food, for instance, 
is a necessity for everyone, but the form in which it is needed changes 
with the years. The baby needs carefully prepared milk products that 
would scarcely satisfy a hungry man who craves a steak. The infant is 
satisfied with its feeding without table adornments, such as flowers, sil- 
ver service, candlelight, or linens. The adult builds around his elemen- 
tal needs for food the need for certain embellishments which tends to 
become part of the basic requirement. He wants not only the steak, but 
all the fixings. 

The table that follows indicates the way our personality needs change 
as we develop through childhood and into adulthood. Following the 
need for intervals of solitude as infants, we develop needs for compan- 
ionship. To our two or three companions of preschool days we add 
many more as we get into school; then as adolescents we mingle freely 
among a great many friends. Similarly our activity needs change from 
those of the rudimentary interaction of the nonsocialized child to those 
of the team play and sharing of grown-up activities. Our love needs 
grow from love of mother to deepening friendships of adolescence by 



way of the affection within the family and the group loyalties character- 
istic of the school years. Our needs for attention change, too, from the 
more or less constant care required in infancy. By adolescence we are 
ready for the more grown-up forms of attention, such as encouragement, 
and reassurance that we can carry on with a minimum of supervision. 
The schematic outline of changing needs shown in the accompanying 
chart is not to be interpreted rigidly but should be understood as de- 
scriptive merely of the stages we attain as personality develops. Like- 
wise, the process of developing from receiving through to cooperating 
with others is one that is not determined by age alone. Adults still re- 
sort to exchange. We all like to lie back and passively receive at times. 


Preschool Child School Child Adolescent 



Family, espe- Two or three Many compan- Friends of Wide variety 

cially mother playmates and ions and own age group 

family family 

Solitude and 
one or two at 

Nurturing care 


Parallel play Group games, Boy-girl 
active play activities 

Many forms 


Supervision Guidance Encourage- Affirmation 

ment in inde- through inter- 

pendence dependence 




Accommodat- Cooperating 

Marriage: The Union of Two Unique Personalities 

Preparation for your marriage started before you were born. The plan- 
ning and the anticipating of your parents had a part in setting the stage 
for the kind of personality you have since developed. 

As soon as you were born you began to learn about life and about 
yourself. You learned that you were important and that people cared 
about you by the fondling and attention you received. Your efforts to 
grow and do things and become somebody were recognized and encour- 


aged. Your mistakes were usually corrected with respect for your need 
of self-esteem. Your love for mother and father was returned in full 
measure, and the early jealousies of brothers and sisters gradually di- 
minished. Your talents and abilities were duly pointed out, and your 
efforts to make something of them were praised. You learned that life 
was rewarding, and you developed faith in yourself and in your ability to 
meet it without escape or defense. That aspect of you will approach 
marriage with courage and eagerness. 

There is, however, another part of you as a personality which is not 
so pleasant. Not all of your life has been equally satisfying and reward- 
ing. You have met defeats and disappointments that have left you feel- 
ing small, insignificant, and unworthy. Eating problems in childhood 
may have left you convinced that you have a weak stomach. Training 
episodes early in your toddler days have left residues of inadequacy, re- 
bellion, and dirtiness. You received some punishments in your youth 
which you didn't deserve. A baldheaded neighbor teased you about 
your hair until you developed a phobia about bald heads and a perma- 
nent aversion for those tresses of yours. Your mother was sometimes 
tired and cross and failed to notice all your hard-earned triumphs. Your 
father never seemed satisfied with what you did. Your sister was smarter 
than you and lots quicker, and you never did catch up. You nearly 
drowned one summer at the lake, and you prickle with fear to this day 
when you get near water. And so it goes. Some of these situations you 
recognize and understand and have already learned to take without side- 
tracking. Others have left their scars without any helpful indication to 
you of their origin, and they account in part for quirks in your person- 
ality that will make married living interesting but difficult. 

Marriage is a union of two unique personalities, each with a back- 
ground and a history. Your marriage partner comes with a peculiarly 
personal set of patterns and habits for meeting life situations that he has 
learned in his parental family and elsewhere. He is courteous and pulls 
out your chair at the table for you, because his mother made so much of 
such gentlemanly manners when he was younger. But he honks the 
horn of the car in front of the house like a drugstore cowboy, the pat- 
tern he picked up from the fellows at the fraternity house whom he 
idealized as a frosh. He is a whiz in chemistry; his father and he tink- 
ered with chemistry sets in his basement from the time he was nine. 
But he's like a big bull in the kitchen, because little boys didn't have 


any business there when he was most teachable. Add all this together 
and put in all the other highly individualized responses to people and 
problems, and do you have your Bill? No, not quite. 

Each of you is greater than the sum of all your habits and responses. 
Each of you operates around a core of feelings and beliefs about your- 
self. Each of you has a highly individualized personality all your own. 
Each of you has had a unique childhood and has been influenced in a 
special way by all the people who have mattered to you since then. 

What do you bring to marriage? You bring to marriage all that you 
have ever been. You bring to marriage your needs and hopes and goals. 
You come prepared to mean a great deal to your chosen one. Success in 
your marriage relationship is dependent on bringing to the union the 
habit of happiness and the capacity to love and to be loved. These are 
attributes of an emotionally mature personality the best possible 
dowry you can bring to marriage. 

CHECK YOURSELF Mrs. B. wants a new fur coat badly. She might use any of several 

methods to get it from her husband, depending on her stage in the 
socialization process. Write in for each of the methods listed the 
levels of socialization represented. Is it receiving, manipulation, 
compromise, sharing, or creative cooperation? 

1 John dear, you said you wished I would fix your favorite desserts oftener. 

Well, I want a new fur coat so badly I'll make them every night for 

two months if you'll get me one. 
2 We both need new coats this winter, dear. Since our budget is a little 

tight right now, what do you say if I earn enough extra money to get 

us each one? 
3 I just had to have a new fur coat right away, so I bought one on your 

account this afternoon. 
4 If we budget carefully we could have our new baby this year. We both 

want one much more than I want that new fur coat we were looking at 

last week. 
5 Other husbands are proud of the way their wives look. Have you seen 

that beautiful mink coat Mrs. Jones is wearing? Her husband gave that 

to her just last week. Of course I know that you don't make as much 

as Harry Jones, but my tastes are so simple. Just a sheared beaver 

would satisfy little me. 

* KEY uoj|D|ndiuDVY uojiojadooa 
g Buuoijs g 


Selected Readings 

DUVALL, EVELYN MILLIS, Family Living (New York: Macmillan, 1950), 
chaps. 1-4, 7, 8. 

FOSTER, ROBERT G., Marriage and Family Relationships (New York: Macmil- 
lan, 1949), Part I. 

HILTNER, SEWARD, Self -Understanding (New York: Scribner, 1951). 

LANDIS, JUDSON T., AND LANDIS, MARY G., Personal Adjustment, Marriage and 
Family Living (New York: Prentice-Hall, 1950), Chap. i. 

LEVY, JOHN, AND MUNROE, RUTH, The Happy Family (New York: Knopf, 
1938), Chap. i. 


(Boston: Heath, 1948), chaps, i, 2, 5, 6. 
PRESTON, GEORGE H., The Substance of Mental Health (New York: Rine- 

hart, 1943). 
TRAVIS, LEE, AND BARUCH, DOROTHY, Personal Problems of Everyday Life 

(New York: Appleton-Century, 1941), Part I. 

Technical References 

DAVIS, KINGSLEY, "Extreme Social Isolation in a Child," American Journal of 

Sociology, Vol. 45, pp. 554-565. 
DAVIS, w. ALLISON, AND HAviGHURST, ROBERT j., Father of the Man (Boston: 

Hough ton Mifflin, 1947). 
DUVALL, EVELYN MILLIS, "Conceptions of Parenthood," American Journal of 

Sociology (November, 1946), LI I, 3, pp. 193-203. 
ERIKSON, ERIK, Childhood and Society (New York: Norton, 1950). 
GESELL, ARNOLD, "Biography of a Wolf-Child," Harper's Magazine (Janu- 
ary, 1941). 

in the Human Male (Philadelphia: Saunders, 1948), Chap. 10. 
KOOS, EARL L., "Class Differences in Family Reactions to Crises," Marriage 

and Family Living (Summer, 1950), XII, 3, pp. 7778. 
MEAD, GEORGE H., Mind, Self, and Society (Chicago: University of Chicago 

Press, 1934). 

MEAD, MARGARET, Male and Female (New York: Morrow, 1949). 
SCHEINFELD, AMRAM, Women and Men (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1944) . 
STODDARD, GEORGE, The Meaning of Intelligence (New York: Macmillan, 

J 943)- 

TERMAN, LEWIS M., AND ASSOCIATES, Psychological Factors in Marital Happi- 
ness (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1938). 

Be Educated? (New York: Harper, 1944). 

YOUNG, KIMBALL, Personality and Problems of Adjustment (New York: 
Crofts, 1940), Parti. 


"How can it be love at first sight? 71 


How do you know it's love? 

Can you tell whether it will last? 

What about love at first sight? 

What are the principles of attraction? 

What is the difference between love and infatuation? 


these opinions jibe, however, with what authorities have found about 
love feelings; so let's pull out what you think you know and see how 
right you are. Check each of the following statements which you be- 
lieve to be true. Then compare your replies with those of the authors. 
If you agree with most of them, you will enjoy the contents of this chap- 
ter. If you don't agree with what the investigators believe to be true, 
read on and see what it is that they are driving at. 

???????? HOW DO YOU KNOW IT'S LOVE ????? ??? 

i When love hits you, you know it. 

2 It is possible to sometimes dislike a person whom you love at 

other times. 

3 Puppy love is not a real love feeling. 

4 When you are really in love, you just aren't interested in anyone 

5 When you fall head over heels in love, it's sure to be the real 


6 There is only one kind of love feeling. 

7 It is quite normal for a person to love several different people at 



8 You never love two people in quite the same way. 

9 Love that grows slowly over a long time is not as satisfying as 

the sudden thunder-and-lightning variety. 

10 Love doesn't make sense. It just is. 

11 Once two people find that they love each other, that settles it; 

they should marry as soon as possible, no matter what. 
1 2 Love without marriage is a serious tragedy and will probably ruin 

one's life. 
13 Loving someone besides the one to whom you are married need 

not wreck your marriage. 
14 Before the average person becomes an adult, he will have loved 

many people. 
15 Love isn't anything you can study or know anything about; it's 

too emotional. 

Here are the facts: 

1 (Incorrect. ) Love feelings are of many kinds and only rarely are of the 
sudden, sure nature indicated in the statement. 

2 (Correct. ) Not only is it possible, but it is also extremely likely that peo- 
ple who are loved will be disliked in some situations. Human nature has 
too many facets to be expected to show only the best one at all times. 
Disliking loved ones in some situations is a common experience. 

3 (Incorrect.) Although puppy love may not be a mature type of love, it 
nevertheless is a love feeling. The only trouble with puppy love feelings 
is that, taken too seriously, they may lead to a dog's life. 

4 (Wrong.) Being in love tends to make other persons and things more 
rather than less lovable. The truly loving person loves and is interested 
in most of the people he or she knows well. If love cut off all other in- 
terests, wouldn't it tend to become monotonous? We'll never know, be- 
cause love doesn't operate that way. We have heard, "All the world 
loves a lover." The converse is also true, "Lovers love all the world." 

5 (Wrong.) Undergoing such tremendous emotional excitement as is re- 
ferred to in the popular concept of "falling head over heels in love" is not 
the best indication that the feeling is true and lasting love. Later in this 
chapter we will discuss some more reliable love yardsticks. Will you wait 
until then for more on this? 

6 (No.) Of course not. There are many, many kinds of love feelings: 
tenderness, passion, mother love, ecstasy, peaceful security, etc., to name 
just a few of the contrasting kinds of love feelings. 

7 (Correct.) It is normal to love several people at once. In fact, it is one 
of the ways that normality is gauged. Mate love tends to be sexually ex- 
clusive, but love in its broader sense is richly inclusive. Love begets love 
and normally fosters love feelings. 

8 (Correct. ) Just as no two persons are identical, so no two combinations 
of persons can be the same. The love feelings we have for dear old 

IT'S LOV6I? 31 

friends may be quite different from those we have in an exhilaratingly 
new relationship. Love for grandpa's sweetness is quite different from 
the vigorous mate love we feel for a marriage partner, and so on and on 
through the multitude of combinations possible in a lifetime of warm re- 
lationships with hundreds of people. 

9 (Wrong.) Satisfying is the catch. Truly satisfying love relationships are 
far more apt to be of the long-term, growing variety than of the whoop- 
whoop-hurrah kind, which frequently dies out like fireworks after a very 
pretty show. 

10 (Incorrect.) Generally love makes sense. It is governed by the same 
natural laws that determine all life. A love has a history that is socially 
determined and that modifies and directs its present and its future. The 
person in love may not know why he fell for this particular girl, any more 
than he may be aware of why he likes certain foods, or what happens to 
them after he has eaten them, or why they make him strong or sick or 
fat. But to the scientist, most of these processes are becoming increas- 
ingly understandable. So, to some extent, is this mysterious thing called 
love. Science, which began with a study of the stars in the skies, now is 
making headway in understanding the stars in lovers' eyes. Investigations 
tend to show that the laws of attraction are reasonable, reliable, and ca- 
pable of being understood. 

11 (Incorrect.) The popular belief in this fallacy is one of the big reasons 
tor so much unhappiness and discord in marriage. There are so many 
kinds of love feelings that a person who takes this position seriously finds 
himself in emotional hot water most of the time. Chasing down every 
tempting trail after a new marriage partner is an exhausting experience. 

12 (Nonsense.) Can you see why from the answer to the previous question? 
And isn't it slightly dreary to think that all of life outside of marriage 
must be completely devoid of warmth? 

1 3 (Correct. ) We've really been answering this all along, haven't we? Mar- 
riages are not so often wrecked by love as by the lack of it! 

14 (Surely.) We all begin to love before we are out of our cradles; our own 
toes and fingers, our mothers, our dads, our sisters and brothers, the boy 
next door, the kindergarten teacher, the scout master, the new girl in 
second grade, Uncle Louis-who-always-brings-candy, the cub scout troop 
(all nineteen of them), the girl in the pink sweater, the boy who walked 
us home from the party all these and many more have come in for a 
share of our loving. Indeed, by the time most of us are adults, we are 
old hands at the game of love! 

15 (No!) If it were true, why bother with a study like this? Many success- 
ful investigations have been carried out and a great deal of information 
has been made available already. And that's what the rest of this chap- 
ter is going to deal with. Besides, who said that emotions cannot be un- 
derstood? The way we feel about things makes some sense when we 
know something of the principles of human behavior in the same way 
that the workings of electricity become predictable to the engineer who 
knows what to expect. So let's see what we know about love. . . . 


What Is Love? 

Love is not easy to define. It is a word that covers many feelings. We 
may feel good, or we may feel very blue, all because we are in love. We 
may be tenderly protective or lustily aggressive; we may work furiously 
or daydream for weeks; we may worship devotedly or exploit hungrily; 
we may give or we may take all in the name of love! 

Love may look like its opposite, hate, when its face is distorted with 
vanity, possessiveness, or jealousy. One big difference between love and 
hatred is that love is an irradiation. It flows outward from the loving 
person in a warm current of feeling toward others generally. Hate, on 
the other hand, tends to focus on the hated one with heavy concentra- 
tion. There are no more perfect loves than there are perfect persons. 
But, as Sidney Harris * says, it is the direction and not the degree that 
is most important. Love turned outward can always grow. Turned in- 
ward or concentrated too intensely on one object, love cannot survive its 
own stagnation. It seems to be this growth factor in love that assures 
its permanence. As Magoun so ably defines love: 

Love is the passionate and abiding desire on the part of two or more people 
to produce together conditions under which each can be and spontaneously 
express his real self; to produce together an intellectual soil and an emotional 
climate in which each can flourish, far superior to what either could achieve 
alone." 2 (Italics ours) 

Love then is fulfillment through healthy growth with and for an- 
other. It is self-realization in an atmosphere conducive to human 
growth. It is an emotional response to others who meet our basic per- 
sonality needs. 3 Two people in love so mutually meet each other's needs 
that they both thrive in their "togetherness" more fully than could 
either alone. In this sense love grows as the personality develops, and is 
capable of ever-changing, ever-deepening, ever-widening involvement. 

Self-Love and Outgoing Love. The Greeks had two words for love 
eros and agape. Eros tends to center in sexual love. It is that love for 
another that comes spontaneously and longs to be reciprocated. 4 It is 

1 Sidney Harris, "Strictly Personal," Chicago Daily News (February 2, 1952), 
p. 10. 

2 F. Alexander Magoun, Love and Marriage (New York: Harper, 1948), p. 4. 

3 Robert Winch, The Modem Family (New York: Holt, 1952), Chap. 15. 

* Esther Adams, "Eros and Agape," Marriage Guidance (August, 1950), pp. 6-7, 


possessive and demanding. We have called it the "orange squeezer" 
type of love that is implied when one says "I love oranges/' in which 
the emphasis is on one's own appetite and not concerned with the fate 
of the orange! Erotic love wants something in return and if frustrated 
may turn to hate. This is the "hell has no fury like a woman scorned" 5 
brand of love . . . primarily self-love. 

Agape, in contrast, cannot be frustrated because it is not demanding. 
It is outgoing, overflowing joy in fellowship. Its pleasure is in being 
and in giving. It releases the freedom of cooperation that people find 
in thinking, yearning, developing, and achieving together. This is the 
kind of love that inspires the full giving of oneself freely to causes and 
purposes beyond oneself. It is close to the truth that Jesus described 
when he said, "He who loses his life shall find it." (Matthew 10:39) 

There are satisfactions of personal needs in every marriage, often 
rich and intense. But if there is nothing more to it than satisfying 
selfish needs, the marriage will not and cannot endure; for as soon as 
someone else appears who seems able to give more satisfaction, the part- 
ner is tossed out like last week's newspaper. Love that lasts involves a 
real and genuine concern for others as persons, for their values as they 
feel them, for their development and growth. As time goes by, those 
we love become increasingly dear to us. We watch their progress with 
joy. We are saddened by their sufferings and disappointed with them 
in their mistakes. Because we love them, we are able to lose some of 
our petty selfishness in thoughts and actions directed beyond ourselves. 
This outgoing type of love has capacities for infinite variety and for sat- 
isfying deep hungers within us. This is the love that builds a strong, 
enduring marriage. 

Principles of Attraction. Very few of us know just why we like the 
people to whom we are attracted; our likes and dislikes are not rational 
or planned. The people we like are not always the folk that the social 
scientist would recommend for us as companions, either for a lifetime 
or for a few months. Yet these little-understood forces of personal at- 
traction wield a mighty weight in the process of falling in love and get- 
ting married, and often overshadow more rational and sensible consid- 
erations in the choice of a wife or husband. 

5 "Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, 
Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned." 

Congreve The Mourning Bride, Act III, Scene 8- 


Some of the unconscious tendencies that determine our preferences 
for people are these: * 

1 We tend to like the people and the things that remind us of pleasant and 
comfortable experiences in our past, many of which go way back into our 
early childhood and are forgotten except for the powerful, unconscious 
role they continue to play in our choices. "I loved him the minute I set 
eyes upon him." 

2 We tend to be repulsed by the people and the things that are associated 
with uncomfortable and unpleasant experiences in our past. The original 
painful experience may be no longer remembered, but its influence con- 
tinues to deflect us from anything and anybody that resembles some aspect 
of that unhappy situation. "Don't ask me why, I just don't like her." 

3 We tend to be attracted to those people who reassure us, do not make us 
feel less worthy or less able or attractive than we like to think we are. 
"She's just too smart to suit me," or "I can't stand him, he's always so 
superior," and "She makes me feel as though I am somebody." 

4 We tend to seek the people who are considered attractive by those around 
us and to leave the unsought alone. "I want the kind of girl the other 
fellows will whistle at." 

5 We tend to like those who satisfy some particularly hungry spot in our 
make-up. The boy who has not had as much mother love as he wanted 
may be strongly attracted to a mother type of girl. "I don't know why I 
love her. She just gives me all I need." 

6 We tend both to reproduce and to repudiate the relationships in which 
we grew up. A boy may be attracted to anyone who reminds him of his 
mother and who can reproduce the feeling of the old parent-child rela- 
tionships. A girl may be unable to tolerate anyone who even remotely re- 
minds her of her father, a repudiation of the former parent-child relation- 
ships. "I want a girl just like the girl who married dear old dad," or "I 
can't stand her. Who does she think she is, my mother?" 

The Course of Love. The girls that Ellis studied 6 reported that they 
first fell in love with or became infatuated with a man or boy when they 
were near twelve years of age. They also indicated that between the 
ages of twelve and eighteen they had been in love with or infatuated with 
more than six different men or boys. Although further research is needed 
in this area, general observation corroborates this finding that young peo- 
ple do tend to experience specific love feelings early and to be attracted 

6 Albert Ellis, "Questionnaire Versus Interview Methods in the Study of Human 
Love Relationships. II, Uncategorized Responses," American Sociological Review 
(February, 1948), XIII, No. i, pp. 62-64. 



to a variety of love objects of the other sex throughout the entire second 
decade of life. 7 

Two othei investigators have shown graphically that college students 
are able to plot the course of their love affairs between four levels of in- 
volvement: love, attraction, indifference, dislike. The most frequently 
reported curve was regular, beginning with indifference, moving slowly 
or precipitately upward through attraction to love and then (a) drop- 
ping again to indifference (indicating that the affair had terminated), 
or (b) remaining at a high level of love in ongoing affairs. About one- 
fifth of the students both male and female reported irregular courses of 
love, while a somewhat smaller group showed the course of love as they 
had known it to be vacillating or "cyclical" (see typical graphs and per- 
centages reporting each below) . 

There is nothing absolute about the data below. They are merely 
indications of the variable nature of love emotions among young people. 

Regular Irregular 

2/3 END 

Males 67.3% 
Females 61.5% 

1/3 2/3 END 

Males 19.4% 
Females 20.3% 


2/3 END 

Males 13.3% 
Females 18.2% 

* Clifford Kirkpatrick and Theodore Caplow, "Emotional Trends in the Court- 
ship Experience of College Students as Expressed by Graphs with Some Observa- 
tions on Methodological Implications," American Sociological Review (October, 
1945), X, No. 5, pp. 619-626. 

7 Evelyn Millis Duvall, Facts of Life and Love (New York: Association Press, 
1950). Based on thousands of questions asked by teen-age young people of both 


Such findings reaffirm the importance of two other questions now to be 
discussed: i. how does the capacity to love develop? and 2. how can 
you tell that you are in love? 

Learning to Love 

Love does not come as a sudden answer to life's basic needs. We de- 
velop the capacity to love gradually through years of interaction with 
other people. We learn to love just as we learn to eat and to walk and 
to read. The native tendencies and potentialities are there from the be- 
ginning. Given favorable opportunities, these capacities develop and 
flower; and as in all learning, first experiences set the stage for later re- 
sponses. Therefore, to trace the development of the ability to love and 
to be loved, we must go back to the early days of infancy. 

Developing the Capacity to Love. In his mother's arms the baby re- 
ceives his first lessons in learning to love. As she holds him close in 
nursing, he feels the comfort of her supporting arms, the warmth of hei 
body, the gratification of the satisfying milk, and the pleasure of the 
sucking process itself. Before long his eyes focus on her face, he sees 
her smile and soon manages one of his own in return. He coos back to 
her as she talks and sings to him. The glow of comfort he feels in her 
presence quickly becomes associated with the mother herself, as the 
baby learns that these highly pleasurable experiences arrive wrapped in 
the sound and the smell and the feel and the sight of his mother. As- 
sociated with all his fundamental satisfactions, this first mother-love es- 
tablishes the pattern for further responses to others. 8 

8 Robert F. Winch, The Modern Family (New York: Holt, 1952), especially 
pp. 396-400, develops in some detail the process by which the child effects this trans- 
fer of affection from the parents, more usually the mother, to successive substitutes 

until he settles on an age mate with whom he experiences "companionship love." 
Winch explains the process as maturation of the capacity to love without "leaning" 
dependently on another. From the extremely dependent love of the infant for the 
mother, based on the infant's complete dependence on her for the gratification of his 
needs, the child develops self-dependence in many areas of his life, diffuses his 
"needs-meeting" among many individuals outside the family, and eventually does not 
need to have all his needs met through one all-consuming love. By means of trial- 
and-error he discovers persons whose needs to gratify others complement his needs 
to be gratified. His parents become alternates in his love life, and companionship 
love of an interdependence-of-peers sort is experienced with one or more age mates. 
In marriage, this love, based on complementary needs, becomes a solidifying factor, 
particularly if the love patterns keep abreast of the changing needs of the partners 
throughout their marriage cycle. 

IT'S LOVE!? 37 

If the child is frustrated in this first important relationship, he may 
come to feel that he is living in a hostile world in which he must fight 
for what he needs; or if the outlook is too discouraging, he may lapse 
into the listless lethargy described so vividly by Kibble. 9 If he is neg- 
lected, handled harshly, or fed too little, the unfortunate child devel- 
ops irritability instead of the glow of the happy child. He feels frustra- 
tion in continued hunger, and he misses the cuddling support and 
warmth of the mother. He whimpers his discontent, lashes about in 
his discomfort, cries out in distress, and if no relief is forthcoming he 
may lapse into troubled, discouraged apathy. 

The neglected child has been deprived of the first opportunities of 
feeling and responding warmly to another. He starts life, therefore, 
either like a bully with a chip on his shoulder or like a puppy with his 
tail between his legs. Years later as an adult he may attempt to com- 
pensate for his childhood deprivations by excesses and undue personal 
demands upon others. His early protests may continue into marriage in 
the form of unpredictable, little-understood aggressions toward his wife 
and children. 

Diffusion of Love to Others. Mother may be the first love, but she is 
not the last! Father often enters into the affectional set-up very early. 
As he helps bathe and dress the child, as he comes in for a frolic before 
bedtime, as he tucks the infant under the covers, he too becomes an ob- 
ject of the child's love. Soon his voice and his step are awaited with 
eagerness, and his presence brings peculiarly satisfying meanings to the 
child. The child now responds to both father and mother with love. 

The baby learns still another type of love response from children. 
Their play with the child is less tender; their laughter is a bit more spon- 
taneous, their voices louder and their touch a little rougher. With them 
the baby learns a new type of love, hearty and carefree. The familiar 
roughhouse of the typical household finds the baby the gleeful center. 
Now he's beginning to feel one of the gang. It took mother to nurse 
him through early infancy. It took father to teach him that men are 
good and very much a part of his life. Brothers and sisters round off his 
early emotional education by helping him feel that he belongs, that he 
is one of them a part of the family. 

9 Margaret A. Kibble, The Rights of Infants (New York: Columbia University 
Press, 1943). See also our earlier discussion of the basic love needs of children, 
pp. 13-15,23-24. 


Early in the child's life come other adults to strengthen and to mod- 
ify the feelings built up toward parents. Relatives, neighbors, and 
teachers become substitute parents as the youngster tries out his parent- 
learned responses on them. These adults play important roles in the 
lives of children, giving them the comforting security so needed by 
youngsters growing away from early parent-child relationships. Baruch 
gives a particularly clear illustration from a nursery school in the follow- 
ing episode: 

... a two year old is having trouble making his adjustment in the new situ- 
ation. He has been raised by his grandmother, and now his grandmother 
has gone to work. He sulks at the teachers and shrugs away. But, after a 
while, he navigates into the kitchen, settles himself there on a chair, and 
does not wish to budge. The head-teacher, observing, suddenly realizes, "It's 
the cook." As she said later, "The rest of the staff was so much younger 
than the only mother he had ever known. But not the cook. She's an 
elderly, comfortable, grandmotherly soul. So, we suggested that she take 
over and that she give him some loving between paring carrots and potatoes. 
He spent two days sitting in the kitchen, dragging the toys in under her feet, 
until he got the feeling of anchorage and belongingness, and could wander 
further apace." 10 

Most of us remember the warm friendly adults who made us feel 
important back in those days when we went exploring for new relation- 
ships. Unfortunately, not all adults were equally friendly, and some of 
us also remember the shame and ignominy of early experiences with sar- 
castic, blaming persons, some of whom were teachers who shamed and 
ridiculed us and rebuffed our struggling efforts to please. All too few 
educators realize the importance of selecting leaders and teachers who 
can take the place of parents in the molding and directing of love re- 
sponses of growing children. Teachers especially should be persons who 
are themselves emotionally mature enough to guide the affectional as 
well as the intellectual development of their charges. The typical ex- 
perience of the youngster falling in love with his scout leader or teacher 
should be a happy one, guided and understood by the adults involved. 
It is a further step in the direction of the mature, heterosexual love 
which unites people in marriage. 

Some young people become fearful of social intercourse and avoid 
the very gatherings that they most crave. Others mask their insecurity 

10 Dorothy W. Baruch, "Are Teaching Techniques Meant for Children?" Jour- 
nal of Consulting Psychology, Vol. 8, No. 2 (March-April, 1944), p. 111. 


by a pretense at sophistication and play the bravado role of a "wolf." 
They may go in heavily for petting rather than explore the fuller per- 
sonal meanings of boy-girl relationships. The trauma and the disap- 
pointment of many of these blind-alley experiences affect the ability to 
love and seem to be related to later marital unhappiness. 

Teen-age young people who have had a hearty experience in loving 
and being loved in a happy family circle make these adjustments rela- 
tively successfully. There are two reasons for their success: i. they have 
parents who are adequate examples of people in love, and 2. they have 
had years of practice in learning to respond with affection and consid- 
eration to loved ones. 

Learning to Express Affection Jakes Practice. Families differ widely in 
the ways in which their members express affection for one another. In 
some homes loving words and gestures are rare; in others, the children 
grow up from babyhood surrounded by warm assurances of love. Some 
married couples hide their love for each other behind a wall of reserve, 
while others continue to show their affection by all the small meaningful 
signals that develop through years of close association. Children grow- 
ing up in a home where father kisses mother good-by in the morning 
and returns affectionately to her side in the evening learn that "papa 
loves mama." Children who have been taught how to express their feel- 
ings for others as they grow up, reach marriage with the fundamental 
skills required for living intimately with another person. On the other 
hand, the youngster who has never known the meaning of demonstrated 
love is apt to be clumsy in his efforts to express his feelings. 

Elsie was such a person. Her mother died when she was very young, 
and she was raised by her father and his unmarried sister. Her father 
so mourned for his young wife that he dared not express the feeling that 
he had for the little girl who so closely resembled her. The maiden 
aunt was also bottled up, with no outlets save mournful love ballads. 
For years the little girl didn't know the meaning of being kissed or 
fondled. As she grew up and realized that other people were more overt 
in expressing their affection, she was shocked and vowed that no man 
would ever fuss around her. In the course of time Elsie found herself 
involved in a friendship with a fine young man whom she respected 
highly. They became engaged without having had closer contact than 
an occasional handclasp. Two weeks before their marriage they still 



1 Tends to occur first in late teens and in the twenties 1 

2 Attachment simultaneously to two or more tends not to be frequent * 

3 Most cases last over a long period of time x 

4 More slowly develops again after a love affair has ended x 

5 Often used to refer to present affair 1 

6 Object of affection is more likely a suitable person 2 

7 Parents tend to approve 2 

8 Broadly involves entire personality 2 

9 Brings new energy and ambition, and more interest in life 5 

10 Associated with feelings of self-confidence, trust, and security z 

1 1 Accompanied by kindlier feelings toward other people generally 8 

1 2 Joy in many common interests and an ongoing sense of being alive when 
together precludes boredom 4 

13 Relationship changes and grows with ongoing association, developing 
interests, and deepening feelings 4 

14 Accompanied by willingness to face reality and to tackle problems realis- 
tically 5 

1 Albert Ellis, "A Study of Human Love Relationships/' Journal Genetic Psy 
chology (1949), No. 75, pp. 61-71. 

2 Paul Popenoe, "Infatuation and Its Treatment," Family Life (March, 1949), 
IX, No. 3, pp. 1-2. 

3 Albert Ellis, "A Study of the Love Emotions of American College Girls," In- 
ternational Journal of Sexology (August, 1949), pp. 16. 



1 Tends to be more frequent among young adolescents and children under 
teen age * 

2 Simultaneous attachments to two or more tends to be frequent 1 

3 Tends to last but a short time (only a few weeks in most cases) 1 

4 More quickly reoccurs soon after a given involvement has ended 1 

5 Is often the term applied to past attachments 1 

6 Tends to focus more frequently on unsuitable person 2 

7 Parents more often disapprove 2 

8 Narrowly focused on a few traits; mostly physical thrill 2 

9 Less frequently accompanied by ambition and wide interests 8 

10 Feelings of guilt, insecurity, and frustration are frequent * 

1 1 Tends to be self-centered and restricted * 

1 2 Boredom is frequent when there is no sexual excitement or social amuse- 
ment 4 

1 3 Little change in the relationship with the passing of time 4 

14 Problems and barriers are often disregarded; idealization may have little 
regard for reality 5 

4 Joe McCarthy, "How Do You Know You're in Love?" McCall's Magazine, 
Reprint, pp. 26-27, 88-90. 

5 Stephen Laycock, Director of Mental Hygiene, Canada (informal communi- 


had not kissed each other. In panic the girl, now a young woman of 
nearly twenty-five, came to a marital guidance center for help. She 
shivered as she told of her fears in anticipating her marriage, of her de- 
sire to be kissed and loved by this man who meant so much to her. Yet 
she felt impelled to fight off his advances, felt herself freeze whenever 
he came near. The counselor recommended postponing the marriage 
until the couple could build up a more satisfactory mode of expressing 
their affection. After several months, the counselor with step-by-step 
guidance was able to open up the affectional outlets that would prepare 
them for the married happiness they both wanted. Elsie and her hus- 
band, even so, will probably never be as free in expressing their love for 
each other as couples whose childhood experiences in loving were ade- 
quate. Learning to express affection takes practice. 

How Can You Know? 

Love is a highly variable sentiment. It may be superficial and trivial 
or it may be splendid and deep. Love may be a transient appeal that 
disappears after a few heavy dates, and again it may foster a relation- 
ship which will become stronger with the years. It would be folly to 
decide whether or not to marry by the quality of the love sentiment 
at a given moment. In some instances the very intensity of the feeling 
may be a danger signal. How can you know that it's the type of love 
on which happy marriages are based? One of the first steps is to dis- 
tinguish between love and infatuation. (See table on pages 40-41.) 

Seven Ways fo Tell If Your Love Will Last. There is no magic daisy 
petal test by which you can measure the extent or the depth or the per- 
manence of your love feelings. Yet, if you are going to try to base your 
marriage upon your love for each other, you must have some criteria by 
which to judge whether yours is the kind of love that may be expected 
to last in marriage. Here are some ways to help you tell. 


has many facets: 

tender, passionate, comradely, protecting, highly specific in its focus, 
widely general in its diffusion. 

is outgoing: 

radiating out in its values, concerns, and interests to others' happiness 
and well-being. 


is motivating: 

releases energy for work, is creative, brings an eagerness to grow, to im- 
prove, to work for worthy purposes and ideals. 

is sharing: 

what one has and what one is strive to be shared; thoughts, feelings, 
attitudes, ambitions, hopes, interests, all are sharable. 

is a we-feeling: 

thinking and planning are in terms of "we"; what we want, how we feel, 
what we will do, rather than "I" centeredness. 

is realistic: 

faults, weaknesses, and problems are faced together as part of reality; will- 
ingness to work on building the relationship. 

changes and grows with time: 

time is the surest test if the relationship has grown through many 
emotional climates, further association, developing interests, and deepen- 
ing feelings, the chances are that it will continue to grow as long as the 
persons do. 

By gaining insight into ourselves and into the nature of our past and 
present involvements, we may learn in some measure how to appraise 
the depth and the strength of a particular relationship. If we can love 
another deeply enough to subordinate ourselves to the relationship and 
lose ourselves in values common to both of us, we have love enough to 
marry on. 

Selected Readings 

CHRISTENSEN, HAROLD, Marriage Analysis (New York: Ronald Press, 1950), 

Chap. 7. 
DUVALL, EVELYN MiLLis, Facts of Life and Love (New York: Association 

Press, 1950), chaps. 9, 10, 13, 14. 
DUVALL, SYLVANUS M., Before You Marry (New York: Association Press, 

1949), Chap. i. 
FOLSOM, JOSEPH K., The Family and Democratic Society (New York: Wiley, 

1934, revised, 1943), Chap. 11. 
MAGOUN, F. ALEXANDER, Love and Marriage (New York: Harper, 1948), 

Chap. i. 
MERRILL, FRANCIS E., Courtship and Marriage (New York: Sloane, 1949), 

chaps. 2, 3. 
POPENOE, PAUL, "Infatuation and Its Treatment," Family Life (March, 

1949), pp. 1-2. 
WINCH, ROBERT F., The Modern Family (New York: Holt, 1952), chaps. 



Technical References 

DYMOND, ROSALIND, "Personality and Empathy/' Journal of Consulting Psy- 
chology (October, 1950), XIV, No. 5, pp. 343-350. 

ELLIS, ALBERT, "A Study of Human Love Relationships," Journal of Genetic 
Psychology (1949), No. 75, pp. 61-71. 

, "A Study of the Love Emotions of American College Girls," Interna- 
tional Journal of Sexology (August, 1949), pp. 1-6. 

, "Questionnaire Versus Interview Methods in the Study of Human 

Love Relationships. II, Uncategorized Responses," American Sociologi- 
cal Review (February, 1948), XIII, No. i, pp. 61-65. 

, "Some Significant Correlates of Love and Family Attitudes and Be- 
havior," Journal of Social Psychology (1949), No. 30; pp. 316. 

Courtship Experience of College Students as Expressed by Graphs with 
Some Observations on Methodological Implications," American Socio- 
logical Review (October, 1945), X, No. 5, pp. 619-626. 

PRESCOTT, DANIEL, "Role of Love in Human Development," Journal of 
Home Economics (March, 1952), pp. 173-176. 

WALLER, WILLARD, AND HILL, REUBEN, The Family: A Dynamic Interpreta- 
tion (New York: Dryden, revised 1951), Chap. 7. 

WINCH, ROBERT, "Some Data Bearing on the Oedipus Hypothesis," Journal 
of Abnormal and Social Psychology (July, 1950), Vol. 45, No. 3, pp. 


"Well . . . Can't you say something!" 


What makes a person popular? 

How about petting as a pastime? 

Why are some folks so slow starting to date? 

What is there to do on a date besides the same old stuff? 

What can you do about the fast ones? 


The strange prince who dashes up and carries the blushing damsel away 
on his white horse is no more in evidence today than is his prancing 
charger. Couples find each other in contemporary society through a 
variety of associations that precede courtship and marriage. These 
paired contacts between the sexes go by the name of dating. 

What Is a Date? 

Young people themselves usually think of a date as a mutually agreed 
upon association of a boy and a girl, or a man and a woman, for a par- 
ticular occasion or activity. Dating today differs from courtship, as it 
used to be defined, in that young people now can date each other with- 
out either of them or their parents assuming that because they date 
they are seriously interested in each other. They may be. But just the 
fact of their dating each other does not commit them in the future. 

As such, dating is a phenomenon of the twentieth century. Before 
then it was usual for the boy to request permission of the girl's parents 
to "court" her before any paired association took place. Courtship inv 


plied in the eyes of the couple, the parents, and the community a re- 
sponsibility for the future that the greater freedom of current dating 
does not. 

Dating is defined differently by some observers than by others. Wil- 
lard Waller observing college young people, after World War I in the 
East, took a pessimistic view of dating as largely exploitative and com- 
petitive. Margaret Mead and Geoffrey Gorer have since echoed these 
reflections. Students of the family such as Burgess and Locke, on the 
other hand, have seen dating as preliminary to courtship and as having 
functions preparatory to courtship and marriage. A third concept of 
dating formulated by persons working closely with large numbers of 
high school and college students is that dating is a value in itself both 
in personality development and in education for future stages of involve- 
ment and commitment. These three concepts of dating are outlined 


Dating as a dalliance: Prestige in rating 
a time-filler 2 Status in ^^ grou p 

Excitement in pretended involvement . 

Pursuit of a thrill 


Capacity to love impaired 

Many are hurt 

Poor education for marriage 

Dating as preliminary Opportunity for association with other sex 
to courtship 3 Variety of social experience 

Range of social contacts 
Selection of compatible pairs 
Opportunities for choice of potential mate 

1 See Samuel Harman Lowrie, "Dating Theories and Student Responses," 
American Sociological Review (June, 1951), Vol. 16, No. 3, pp. 334-340. 

2 See especially, Willard Waller, "The Rating and Dating Complex," American 
Sociological Review (October, 1937), No. 2, pp. 727-734; The Family, a Dynamic 
Interpretation (New York: Cordon, 1938), pp. 222-235; and Margaret Mead, Male 
and Female (New York: Morrow, 1949), pp. 281-295; also, Geoffrey Gorer, The 
American People (New York: Norton, 1948), pp. 106-132. 

3 Ernest W. Burgess and Harvey Locke, The Family (New York: American 
Book, 1945), pp. 382-393. 


Dating as a social Enriched personality development 

value in itself * BrQad exper ience 

Wide acquaintance 

Skills in mixing socially 

Poise and self-confidence 

Rational selection of friends among other sex 

Prestige among associates 

Satisfaction of social goals 

Some Do Not Date 

Those who take the "dating is dalliance" point of view might consider 
the young person who does not date as fortunate. He is not wasting 
his time in a time-filler that leads to nothing but pain. Apparently 
young people themselves do not consider the lack of dates as an advan- 
tage. Indeed one of the most frequent problems that both boys and 
girls raise is that of not having enough contact with the other sex 
through dating. The Purdue University Opinion Panel for Young Peo- 
ple, in a systematic country- wide analysis of representative young people 
from 12 to 20 years of age, reports that students in senior high schools, 
in significant percentages, indicate their concern for the lack of dating 
opportunities and skills. 5 


Seldom have dates BOYS 48% 39% GIRLS 

Don't have a girl (boy) friend 41 30 

Don't know how to keep girls (boys) interested 25 33 

Are bashful about asking girls for dates 34 

Don't know how to ask a girl for a date 26 
Wonder whether anything is wrong with going 

places "stag" 23 
Wonder whether it is all right to accept "blind 

dates" 29 

* Lowrie, op. cit., p. 337; also, Evelyn Millis Duvall and Reuben Hill, When 
You Marry (New York: Association Press, 1945), Chap. 3; and Evelyn Millis Duvall, 
Facts of Life and Love (New York: Association Press, 1950), Chaps. 5, 6. 

5 H. H. Remmers and Benjamin Shimberg, Examiner Manual for the SRA 
Youth Inventory, Form A, Science Research Associates, 228 So. Wabash Avenue, 
Chicago, Illinois (August, 1949), p. 4. 



"I don't think boys are half as girl-crazy as people say they are/ 

Reproduced by permission of Martha Blanchard 
from THE SATUBDAY EVENING POST, October 6, 1951 

The problem is greater for younger than for older youth. But there 
is evidence that a considerable number of out-of-school young people and 
college students still are not dating. More than a third of the univer- 
sity students in one study 6 reported inadequate opportunities for meet- 
ing members of the other sex. Attempts to analyze why some young 
people do not get dates uncovers a number of traits and characteristics 
that seem to be handicaps. Physically unattractive, geographically iso- 
lated, academically insulated, emotionally immature, and psychologi- 

8 Clifford Kirkpatrick and Theodore Caplow, "Courtship in a Group of Minne- 
sota Students," American Journal of Sociology (September, 1945 ), LI, No. 2, p. 117. 


cally unstable young people of both sexes seem to have more difficulty 
securing the favorable attention of the other sex than do the attractive, 
accessible, mature, and socially skilled young people. 

Preferences in Dafes. A nation-wide sample of thousands of high 
school students paralleling previous studies of college youth reports that 
there is general agreement among young people as to who is preferred 
as a dating partner. The seven characteristics rated highest are in the 
table below, in order of rank. 7 


is physically and mentally fit 

is dependable, can be trusted 

takes pride in personal appearance and manners 

is clean in speech and action 

has pleasant disposition and a sense of humor 

is considerate of me and others 

acts own age, is not childish 

Both sexes have certain patterns of conduct objectionable to the 
other sex. In general, boys are criticized for being less inhibited and 
more careless, thoughtless, disrespectful, sex-driven, and loud than their 
partners in dating. Girls are characterized as being less natural, more 
touchy, money-minded, unresponsive, childish, and flighty than the boys 
they date. 8 

At What Age Does Dating Begin? 

Many factors seem to operate to determine the age at which dating 

What Your Folks Expect of You. Dating practices vary widely from 
family to family. There are still some fathers and mothers who so pro- 
tect their girls that any man walking their daughter home is subjected 
to a full inquiry of his intentions. A considerable number of fathers 
forbid their daughters dating privileges. Other parents expect young 

7 Harold Christensen, "Dating Behavior as Evaluated by High School Students," 
American Journal of Sociology (May, 1952), LVII, No. 6, p. 580. 

8 Christensen, op. cit., pp. 581-582. 


people to "couple off" very early, with no questions asked or eyebrows 
raised. In fact, many parents encourage both their sons and daughters 
in their first dating. 


Attitude of Parents as Reported Father toward Mother toward 

by Students Son Daughter Son Daughter 

Prohibited or disapproved 8.5% 18.0% 7-3% 9-5% 

Indifferent 70.7 62.3 57.6 39.6 

Encouraged 20.8 19.7 35.1 50.9 

Where You Come in the Family. Studies of the age at which young 
people begin to have dates indicate that their position in the family is 
a very important factor. Only children and oldest children are usually 
a little slower in getting started than are the younger members of the 
family. The oldest boy or girl has to break the ice among the younger 
set in the neighborhood. In addition, he must get the parents accus- 
tomed to the idea that going out is all right. This is especially difficult 
when customs are changing from one generation to the next as they are 
today. Parents who lived in the times when no nice girl was out after 
dark with a man the family didn't know well, take some plain and fancy 
reconditioning to be brought up to date. The older children in the 
family perform a real service to their younger brothers and sisters in 
winning the parents over to the idea of modern dating. The younger 
fry then come along and take advantage of all the spade work which has 
been done. The result is that they begin dating earlier and know more 
about it than their older brothers and sisters. 

It is not uncommon for younger brothers and sisters to get some 
practice on the friends of those just ahead of them in the family. Kid 
brother may be a pest when he hangs around the sofa when the boy 
friends come calling, but he is also getting some very good tips on what 
to do in such a situation and how a girl whom he knows as well as he 
does that sister of his acts when she is on a date. Little sisters haven't 
quite the reputation of little brothers for having to be bought off by 
visiting suitors, but they usually stick around long enough to get in a 
few licks of practice on their sister's boy friends, and thus smooth over 

9 Adapted from Clifford Kirkpatrick and Theodore Caplow, "Courtship in a 
Group of Minnesota Students/' American Journal of Sociology (September, 1945), 
LI, No. 2, p. 115. 


some of their own rough edges before they try out their techniques on 
a boy who really matters. Going along for the ride with the set just a 
notch older is of great help in improving these skills and in getting in 
on the social activities about town. "Has she got a sister?" is a boost 
that gives many a kid sister a start. 

How Friendly You Are. Friendly people make friends. In no area is 
this more true than in dating. The person who has learned to enjoy 
being with people, to be sensitive to what they do and do not like, and 
who has developed the skills of being attractive to others is off to a head 
start when it comes to getting along with the other sex. These skills are 
specifically learned. The little wolf child whom you have read about 
wouldn't have the slightest idea of what to do on a coke date . . . she 
couldn't even sit up to the table! Shy Sam who got his feelings hurt in 
second grade and hasn't talked to a girl since may be in an awkward spot 
when it comes to facing the terrors of a high school dance. Smooth Sue 
who has gone around with many friends of assorted sizes and sexes from 
the time she first held Jimmie's hand in nursery school has probably 
learned what it takes to be friendly and comfortable with all kinds of 
boys. In this sense, being a person of experience is quite acceptable. 

Learning to be friendly is every bit as complex an attainment as 
learning to swim or to ride a bicycle, and maybe a little more so. You 
can't learn to swim without getting some water up your nose and being 
sure that your next breath may be your last! If you can take these first 
uncomfortable moments, you are soon paddling around, wondering 
what the early fuss was all about and feeling sure you could do a swan 
dive if you practiced. It is practice that makes for the poise and skills 
that are so universally envied in dating too. 

What You Consider a Date. It would be hard for some young adults 
to remember when they had their first real date. Young people of both 
sexes mingle so freely in some of our communities that they have liter- 
ally been doing things together since before they could toddle. It is be- 
coming more and more common for grade school boys to take girls in 
their classrooms to a Saturday afternoon movie, or a children's sym- 
phony, or the zoo, in a pattern of behavior that has many of the aspects 
which in older circles is known as dating. In some neighborhoods, 
however, a girl is not allowed to go anywhere with a boy until she is 
sixteen or older, and then under supervision, and the event is regarded 


by the family and friends as quite an occasion. So the age at which you 
begin to date, as such, depends on whether you define a date as some- 
thing special, over and beyond the child's play of early friendship, or 
whether you are willing to call any sortie of a couple a date, no matter 
what the maturity of the participants may be. 

Wfien You Become Mafure. Recent studies of the rate and pace .at 
which children become adults show that there is a great difference in 
the speed with which individuals do grow up. Generally speaking, most 
girls mature a little earlier than boys do, causing some tension between 
the sexes, especially at the awkward age along about junior high school 
time. Not only are the girls physically more mature than the boys of 
their own age, but they are ready for grown-up activities before the boys 
are. We know definitely that these grown-up interests, such as getting 
special pleasure out of being with those of the other sex, taking an in- 
terest in one's personal appearance, enjoying love stories and romantic 
movies, etc., follow the physical maturing of the boy or girl. The girl 
who is beginning to look like a woman wants to act like one. The boy 
who is as tall as his dad will very soon be seeking the more grown-up 
roles he has seen his dad and other men play. This sequence of devel- 
opment of the person is more important by far than his or her chrono- 
logical age. In careful work at the University of California, it has been 
shown that as much as five years' difference may be found in the age at 
which boys begin to develop. Some youngsters of ten are already in the 
puberal cycle (period of change from childhood to adulthood, physically 
speaking), while others of nearly fourteen haven't yet started. 10 And 
the age at which boys complete their physical growth is not the same 
for all boys. Some are through the growth period before they are fif- 
teen, while others may be out of high school before they achieve ma- 
turity. These individual differences are important to recognize, so that 
we won't expect all seventeen-year-old boys to be alike in their readiness 
for dating, for dancing, or any other adult activity. Girls show much 
the same personal variation in their development, and by the seventh or 
the eighth grade we find two thirds of the girls on their way to becom- 
ing young ladies one of the reasons why they vote for long dresses 
and a graduation dance. Two thirds of the boys in their classes, how- 

10 Lois Hayden Meek and associates, The Personal-Social Development of Boys 
and Girls with Implications for Secondary Education (New York: Progressive Educa- 
tion Association, 1940), p. 34. 


ever, haven't yet started on the cycle of growth that is to carry them into 

This general tendency for girls to grow up before the boys of their 
own age leads to another interesting occurrence girls usually date boys 
a little older than themselves. Boys, conversely, prefer girls younger 
than themselves as friends and dates. This tendency carries right 
through the dating, mating, engagement, and marriage periods and is 


Hit-and-Miss Childhood Groups 

Determined largely by family, neighborhood, and community opportuni- 
ties, the geographical "range" to roam provided, and the amount of su- 

Gang Groups 

Cliquelike groups formed by both boys and girls for which they feel deep 
loyalty but which change in nature and membership very readily. 

Fleeting Affinities 

The coke date, the "being walked home from school" involvements char- 
acteristic of the junior high school and high school age, types of tempo- 
rary try-outs with each other across the sex line on a couple basis, called 
"playing the field" by some. 

Going Together 

A recognizable couple formation in which a boy and girl show preference 
for each other over a period of time, perhaps for just a few weeks, the 
"Jane is going with Jim" stage. 

Mixed Couple Formations 

Constellations of several previously identifiable couples who start going 
round together in groups of several couples, attending basketball games 
together, coming to the proms together, visiting one another's homes as a 
group the "sets" we see in every community. 

Going Steady 

Couples who find their own status as a couple taking precedence over 
other alignments. 

Choosing "The One" 

Selection of a permanent partner with the "understanding" that engage- 
ment and marriage will develop naturally. 


known as the "age gradient." Unfortunately, few of our schools and 
communities have made adequate provision for this mingling of the sexes 
of different age groups, making dating more difficult than it is where 
young people of different ages have ready access to each other in every- 
day work and play situations. 

When a person starts to date is not nearly as important as how he 
begins. The factors determining the onset of his dating practice operate 
in many ways to influence the progress of dating for him. But more 
important by far is his willingness and ability to learn the rules and 
skills by which success is attained, because no one is born popular. So- 
cial success is a learned art, and learning is hard and long for most of us. 
In the last analysis, then, the ability to understand and accept the whole 
dating scheme is more important than the age of starting. 

Although the forms and patterns of dating vary widely in different 
sections of the country, there is a general pattern of development that is 
interesting. It appears in tabular form in the table on page 55. 

How Many Kinds of Dates Are There? 

We not only go through a process of several stages in our dating experi- 
ences, but we have many kinds of dating relationships within any one pe- 
riod. These experiences are distinguished by the meanings and feelings 
they arouse, as we shall see in the following analysis: 

Old-shoe familiarity is characteristic of dates with old pals and friends who 
are enjoyed as comrades, with very little of the excitement of novelty or 
the thrill of "being in love." She is just "good old Lillian" to him and 
is taken for granted in much the same way he takes his sister or his 
maiden aunt. 

Glamor dates are made of different stuff. They are something of an achieve- 
ment. Being seen with a "glamor girl" is a feather in his cap. Similarly, 
a girl is envied as having made a "catch" if she is seen with someone who 
rates high among her friends. 

Blind dates and pick-ups are more scary, in a sense. There's the feeling of 
being on your guard at the same time that you probe around to see how 
far you can go. There's the disadvantage of being afraid to be stuck with 
a dud, but the advantage of being able to try out your skills on someone 
who doesn't have to remind you of possible failures later. They are good 
experiences but risky on the whole, both in feeling tones and in results. 


Difficulties arise when romantic ideas press you to look for the "one and 
only" behind every blind date, with the consequence of disillusionment 
and disappointment, and inability to enjoy the real situation for what it 
is worth. 

Growing friendships deepen and widen their bases through the opportuni- 
ties of dating. The couple get to know each other, and discover new 
aspects of their own changing relationship that give the date more mean- 
ing and charge it with an increasing depth and variety of feeling. This 
kind of date usually leads to something, though not always the altar. It 
may be just the basis for a lifelong friendship. 

Where to Go and What to Do on a Date 

Keeping dates from becoming monotonous is one of the difficulties of 
modern dating. "Where can we go?" "What can we do?" "What can 
you do?" "What can you do that's fun at home?" are pressingly urgent 
questions for many young people. Few of our cities and towns have pro- 
vided the kinds of facilities most young folk enjoy. All too often there 
is nothing but the movies, the pool halls and taverns, and the dance 
halls open for the casual dater. In some communities Teen Canteens, 
Community Centers, Teen Towns, etc., have sprung up as hangouts 
and recreation centers for the young people of the town. There with 
a juke box, soft drinks, ping-pong tables, and a kitchenette, young peo- 
ple of dating age dance, drink cokes, pop corn, and swap lines, and de- 
velop the skills that are necessary to get along with each other. But for 
the town without such a community hangout, what is there for young 
people to do when they get together? 

For the outdoor girl and boy there are many possibilities: skating, 
hiking, the walkie-talkie date, cycling, swimming, gardening, hunting for 
nature specimens of all kinds, picnics, to say nothing of all the outdoor 
games and sports from croquet and tennis to golf and horseback riding. 
Making equipment for a favorite sport is great fun. The couple that 
spent all one summer building a little rowboat got a thrill that will 
make boating forever afterwards exciting. Setting up an archery set in 
the back yard may be as interesting as using it afterwards. There are 
innumerable pursuits which the creative-minded couple can explore 

Stay-at-home dates can be made interesting by the couple who can 
think of home as encompassing more territory than just the davenport. 



Scrapbook of Army-Navy Humor 

"Since you're new at this, Anderson, maybe you'd better 
just tag along and watch." 

The kitchen has real possibilities for group or couple dating. Making 
up a batch of spaghetti, trying out a recipe for Hungarian goulash, or 
beating up an old-fashioned coffee cake have been known to keep dating 
young people interested for several hours at a time. There is nothing 
dull in the clowning around and deciding what to make, or the who-will- 
do-what that precedes the actual culinary endeavor itself. Refreshments 
are no problem when friends make their own. Even the cleaning up 
is fun with big Arthur behind the best chintz apron, and everybody be- 
hind plans for next time. It's no wonder that some groups of young 
people have worked their way through the United Nations Cookbook 
in a series of kitchen dates around the calendar. 

Attics yield materials for parades in costume and impromptu plays 
and skits. The dining room table is just the spot for a series of group 
table games where several couples can participate at once. Games sug- 
gested by such agencies as the National Recreation Association and the 
publishers of Handy are especially good. 

Living rooms adapt themselves well to a variety of dates. Piano 
games, singing old favorites and new hot numbers, amateur orchestras, 
parlor games of the more grown-up varieties such as Elsa Maxwell so in- 
geniously devises and which are described from time to time in popular 
magazines, reading aloud, and a galaxy of other activities around com- 


mon projects can be fascinating. One couple entertained friends by 
providing a large cotton square which they were all to decorate with 
gaudy block printing made from cut potato halves (each person making 
his own design) dipped in a fabric paint. It took all evening, but was 
it fun! And you should see the table cloth that resulted. . . . 

Radio to the imaginative couple will suggest not just listening, nor 
even dancing to its rhythms, but also working out slogans and sending 
in questions to stump the experts. A dozen other ventures into creative 
twosomeness can be interesting and rewarding, even if the sponsor 
doesn't come across with a check by return mail. A person armed with 
such ideas will be welcomed into almost any home. He will find that 
dating this way can be great fun, and that he doesn't have to be the 
center of attention to have a good time. 

Where to go and what to do depends not only on the wealth of local 
resources but even more on the ability of those who date to make use 
of what they have. Going to the museum doesn't have to be stuffy. 
Going to a concert isn't necessarily prosaic. What takes any activity out 
of the area of the humdrum is to give it focus. "You must see this" 
"Don't miss that" are quite different in interest appeal from the lacka- 
daisical, unfocused suggestion, "Do you want to go downtown?" or 
"Would you like to make something?" This pepping up of the dating 
activities comes with experience and learning as does everything else. 
Take your time. Plan your campaign. And have fun! 

What about Petting? 

Do you have to pet to be popular? No question is more universally 
asked by young people who want to rate and to date and yet are inter- 
ested in a variety of dating activities beyond the sheer sex-exploration 
level. To answer the question wisely, a categorical "Yes" or "No" is 
not adequate. Rather, let us look for answers to certain subquestions, 
an understanding of which will give direction to the final personal 

Why Do Young People Pet? Young people discussing this problem 
give the following reasons for premarital petting: 

It seems to be expected of you. 

The rest of the crowd are all doing it. 

You need some assurance that you are desirable. 


Where else can you get a little loving? Most young folk are too old to be 

fondled by their parents any more, and too young to enjoy the caresses of 


It's exciting. 

Sure it's sex, but what's wrong with that? 

It's something to do ... most dates are a bore without it. 

How else can you know you are compatible? 

What's Wrong with Petting? There seems to be some agreement 
among both young people and understanding adults that too frequent 
and too promiscuous petting has hazards that mostjolk like to avoid. 
Briefly listed, these difficulties are: 

Petting often rules out other activities. 

It tends to overemphasize the physical aspects of the relationship. 
It may limit the choice of companionship. 

It may give rise to feelings of shame and guilt (our own early training and 
the standards of the communities in which we live see to this) . 
It rouses sex feelings and then leaves them unsatisfied. 
It leads too often into premarital sex intercourse with the threats of un- 
wanted pregnancy and feelings of regret. 

It makes good marriage adjustment difficult, especially when the petting has 
been too promiscuous and too deeply established as a pattern of behavior. 

Although there are very real dangers of going too far in the petting 
game before marriage, few people are so constituted that they can re- 
frain from expressing affection when they feel it. Between people who 
love each other deeply and who are sharing rich and meaningful experi- 
ences, some physical expression of the love each feels for the other is de- 
sirable. When these expressions of affection become sex-tinged they 
need not terrify the intelligent couple, but should merely serve to indi- 
cate the potency of the force which attracts them to each other. 

Occasionally a young person may be so strictly brought up that he 
develops feelings of disgust and comes to avoid all physical contact 
with others. Elsie (p. 39) was such a person. She came within weeks 
of marriage without ever having been kissed by either her lover or any 
other man. Consequently, she was in panic over the prospect of the im- 
pending intimacies of marriage. The counselor she consulted had to 
recommend a postponement of the marriage until the couple had paved 
the way more adequately for the marriage that was to come. Such a 


case is unusual, but aspects of it are sufficiently common, especially 
among exceedingly nice girls, to make one aware of the dangers of too 
much prudery as well as of an excess of license in the sex field. 

Do You Have fo Pef to Be Popular? No, you do not! Popularity that 
rests on a reputation for petting is not as satisfying as popularity which 
comes from the attraction of a pleasing personality. Popularity is a 
nebulous concept involving all the complexities of what makes a person 
attractive to others: appearance, abilities, responses, attitudes, charm, 
and specific skills. In dating success all of these play a part, but large 
numbers of young people from all sorts of settings agree that the ele- 
ment of friendliness is of primary importance. The person who has de- 
veloped the habit of being friendly, who is genuinely interested in people 
and eager to know them better, who sees girls as interesting person- 
alities to explore and understand as whole personalities, who likes boys 
for what they are, who has had many pleasant experiences with a wide 
variety of people in the past so that he meets new ones with eagerness 
and anticipation rather than with fear and hostility, who feels that peo- 
ple like him and that they will like him better when they know him bet- 
ter this is the type of person, old or young, boy or girl, who will enjoy 
popularity. This kind of person makes people feel comfortable when 
he is around; he doesn't threaten or antagonize; he enjoys people and 
they enjoy him, and he will always be a welcome companion. His 
friendliness is all he needs to get through to other people. 

A person with skills also has alternatives to petting. The girl who 
can do things goes places. If she can swim and dance and play a decent 
game of tennis and bridge, or can sing or play an instrument and carry 
on a live conversation, she is invited out more often, goes to more places, 
meets more people. Such skills are developed by the processes of learn- 
ing and are worth the effort for the person who would be a popular, suc- 
cessful dater. 

When They Are Either Too Slow or Too Fast 

What do to with the "dumb bunny" who answers in monosyllables and 
leaves the whole burden of the date on you is a puzzler. One construc- 
tive possibility is to take the situation as a challenge and see what your 
social skills and insights can do to help the other person have a good 
time. Loosening up a shy, reserved girl to the place where her eyes are 


shining and she's having a good time with you brings rewards that even 
the Smooth Suzy can't guarantee. Girls as USO hostesses and YWCA 
volunteers have done an excellent job of making lonesome, reserved, and 
uncomfortable boys feel at home. 

Dealing with the fast ones is quite another thing. 11 Wolves don't 
always go in packs or pick on the Three Little Pigs. There are she- 
wolves who are dynamite and Lone Wolves of both sexes who can cause 
plenty of trouble when allowed to roam too fast or too far. Everyone 
can develop protective devices and methods of rechanneling the on- 
slaughts of such exploitive folk. The dangers are not great for the young 
person who has had some previous understanding of" the existence of 
such exploitation across the sex line, and who has been able to arrive 
at a decision as to the values worth holding. The greatest danger in 
dealing with a fast worker is that young people aren't sure themselves 
just how far they are willing to go. A song of a generation ago phrased 
it clearly if not too prettily when it moaned, "Her lips tell me 'No, No/ 
but there's Tes, Yes' in her eyes." This inner indecision is what causes 
the trouble; a preconceived set of values will carry one over many emer- 
gencies. The temptations of the moment are effectively met only when 
they are not desirable in terms of what they will cost. Today this holds 
for both sexes. There was a time, not too long ago, when it was the girl 
who was expected to uphold the standards for both of them. Now, 
when many girls are so open and active in their dating relationships, boys 
too have to learn the skills of holding to the line in the face of vigorous 

Boys are often baffled by the lack of understanding shown by girls. 
As they put it, "Why do really nice girls lead you on so far and then 
aren't willing to do anything about it?" Woman's sexual response is so 
general and diffused that frequently she does not even know that she is 
being aroused, and even more frequently is quite unaware that her be- 
havior is arousing the boy beyond the boundaries which she herself 
would wish to maintain. It therefore falls to the boy, who is more 
quickly and recognizably awakened, to share the responsibility for con- 
trol. Needless to say, there are elements of mutuality here that the cou- 
ple who care for the long-time relationship will perfect with practice. 

11 See especially, Evelyn Millis Duvall, Facts of Life and Love (New York: As 
sociation Press, 1950), chaps. 6, 11, 12. 


Going Steady 

Couples go steady for a number of reasons. In many sets, it's the only 
way to get around. You must have a steady in order to rate invitations 
to the activities of the young crowd. Then there is a certain "social se- 
curity" in knowing that you can count on someone when things come 
along for which you need a partner. Many girls find that going steady 
insures them getting to the season's games and dances with far more 
reliability than comes with "playing the field." A sense of personal se- 
curity in having someone to belong to means a great deal to some peo- 
ple. Others find that getting and holding a steady is a way of showing 
himself and others that he can do it: it tends to be a symbol of achieve- 
ment. Going steady is a good way to get to know each other. Moods 
and manners change as contacts multiply. Each member of the couple 
can see how the personality of the other reacts to the ups and downs of 
daily living far better when going steady than in more fleeting contacts. 
The reason for going steady most frequently assumed is that the couple 
love each other and would rather go together than with any other pos- 
sibility. But behind the story of many steadies lies an element of acci- 
dent that the couple itself often senses clearly. Ray took Betty to a 
couple of movies and then to the school prom. By that time friends of 
both had them paired off in their thinking. Sally gave a party and ex- 
pected Ray to bring Betty. Soon the habit of going together was so 
well fixed and expected that they were going steady without the benefit 
of any particular choice or decision in the matter. All too often the 
members of such accidental relationships go all the way to the threshold 
of marriage with a minimum of interests in common. Going steady be- 
comes a habit which is difficult to break. 

CHECK YOURSELF In the discussion immediately above on "Going Steady/ 7 underline 

as many phrases as seem to describe why people go steady. How 
many do you have? (There are 8 in all; see KEY for listing.) 

* KEY Answers in order of their appearance in the text. 

JO }U31H3[3 8 J3q}0 qDE3 3AO[ 
9 }U3UI3A3iqOB JO pquiXg c; 

A}iino3S [Epos e SUOI}E}IAUI 3}Ei oj, z punoiB }3 o} XBA\ X[uo 


While there are valid and quite reasonable advantages in going 
steady, there are also factors worth looking into which indicate that it 
may be unwise to go steady too soon. 

First, starting to go steady too soon lessens opportunities for explor- 
ing the field. After all, we spend much of our lifetime going steady 
with our one and only. The chance for knowing enough members of 
the other sex well enough to make a real choice of a life partner comes 
during the dating period. Shortening the period of exploring possibili- 
ties by settling prematurely on any one person may create a feeling of 
having missed something important. 

Second, confining our entire interests to a single person during the 
time of social and emotional maturation limits the scope of our re- 
sponses and self-understanding. We all respond differently to different 
people. By interacting with a wide variety of people, especially of the 
other sex, we discover facets of our own personality that otherwise might 
lie dormant only to be awakened after marriage, in some cases with dis- 
tressing confusion. Specifically, a fellow should have had the emotional 
experience of being with a girl who made him feel tenderly protective, 
with another who gave him a pleasurable feeling of being mothered, 
with another whose hand he could clasp with a feeling of hearty com- 
radeship, with another whose feminine appeal sent his blood to his face 
and his heart to his throat, with another who made him as comfortable 
and easy as a sister, and perhaps with still another who brought forth a 
pleasant combination of all these feelings in a satisfying mixture. 

Third, one of the most uncomfortable problems to be worked out 
by steadies who start too soon and go on too long is that which arises 
when one takes the other seriously while the other is tired of the rela- 
tionship. Breaking off may prove to be so difficult that the couple will 
remain together only because of the dread one has of hurting the other. 

How to Break Off with a Steady 

Our romantic compulsion to hold together has shut off frank discus- 
sion of how a relationship that is unpromising may be broken comfort- 
ably and with a minimum of pain. There are three practices in general 
use today: i. The love-'em-and-leave-em variety is characteristic of one 
method which is quick, easy, and effective. A relationship which was 
there yesterday just isn't today, because one of the couple just doesn't 


respond any more. He doesn't call her or drop around. She isn't in 
when he calls, if she is the one who is through. The difficulties of this 
method are that, although it is effective, hurts are inflicted both to the 
feelings of the one who has been so summarily jilted and to the con- 
science of the one who did the running away. 2. Agonizing discussions 
about how washed up we are; "if only you would do so-and-so we could 
go on still"; tormenting memories about how happy we once were; the 
break drags on uncomfortably, with hopes rising and falling sometimes 
for months. Grandpa had a point when he mused, "If you have to cut 
off the puppy's tail do it in one blow." Yet a certain amount of prep- 
aration and some explanation are usually helpful. 3. The easing-off type 
of break includes some understanding on the part of both members of 
the couple of what is happening, and an acceptance of the situation be- 
fore the bond is completely severed. Some day people will be much 
wiser about these things. In the meantime we all can be more aware 
of both the need to sever certain relationships and the necessity of 
building the skills that will be most kind and effective. 

Dating as Preparation for Marriage 

Dating has a value as preparation for courtship, engagement, and mar- 
riage in addition to its value as recreation and play. The patterns and 
habits that are built up during the dating days are to some extent those 
which carry over into the courtship and engagement. A man bosses his 
wife very much as he did his fiancee in dating days, that is, if she ac- 
ceded to that arrangement. Dating should be educational, but it may 
turn out to be miseducation. 

Who makes the decisions on a date? Is it the boy who always de- 
cides where they will go, what they will do, how much they will eat? 
Or is it the girl who holds this balance of power in her skillful little 
fist? Can a date be democratic, each one contributing to and receiving 
from the relationship those things which he can and should? Does 
joint planning of activities spoil the fun? Can surprises be mutual? 
Does taking turns in running things help any in dating? Or does one 
person need to show who is boss and play that role down to the bitter 
end? These are basic problems too involved to be solved here, except 
to point out that role-taking begins in the dating period and sets the 
stage for later marriage and home management. 


Money matters especially are often a problem. Why is it that boys 
always expect to pay a girl's way when they go out together? Even 
though a girl may be earning as much as or perhaps even more than the 
boy, why does he feel that he should "take" her? To realize how en- 
trenched this custom is, just listen sometime to a group of young peo- 
ple discuss the pros and cons of sharing expenses on a date. The con- 
sensus almost always is that it just won't work . . . "the girl will feel 
funny," "the boy's ego can't take it," "the girl can make it up some 
other way," are the typical comments. Girls have been so conscious of 
having to wait until boys ask them for a date for which they will foot 
the bills, that recently girls have developed considerable skill in perfect- 
ing devices for asking men to functions where the girls carry the finan- 
cial and social burden. Girls band together and put on a party to which 
they invite their own partners or a "bunch of boys," who are given all 
the courtesies of guests with none of the usual financial burdens as- 
sumed by men in mixed company. Inviting the boys out to the house 
for an evening, to come to supper, to share theater tickets that grandma 
just happened to have, to use "a pass to the ballgame dad gave me" are 
typical of the kinds of ruses now in common usage. The problem 
doesn't end there. It will pop up again early in marriage and become 
one of the areas for adjustment in establishing the new home. The 
whole problem of working wives is often not so much a matter of the 
wife's being out of the home for part of the day as it is a question of 
whose money it is that she earns. Do her earnings go into the family 
budget as do her husband's, or are they to be labeled as hers alone? 

We conclude that dating in America is not a thing apart from the 
rest of life. It grows out of childhood friendships, out of customs, and 
merges into the involvements of courtship and engagement in a process 
which we will describe in later chapters. 

Dating May Be Preparation but It Is Also Fun 

The account of dating which you have just read emphasizes the values 
v/hich come with learning the skills of boy and girl relations. You 
aren't born popular; you have to learn how to do the friendly things 
which will endear you to people. The speed with which you grow in 
competence depends on the encouragement given by your family, your 
eagerness to learn, and your rate of emotional maturation. 


Just as there are all kinds of people, so there are many kinds of dates 
informal old-friend dates, blind dates, formal dates, and so on. Each 
takes imagination and ingenuity to carry off right; each is a challenge to 
the growing person. Those who have read this chapter will see how 
many things there are to do on a date besides the same old stuff. 

Dating has been explained as education in the discovery of emotions 
and their control. Sexual urges, unruly tempers, and needs for affection 
come to the fore out of the new experiences of dating relations. Par- 
ticipants come to find that gestures of affection enrich their relations if 
tied in with the discovery of common interests and goals. Out of dat- 
ing, then, should come not only the ability to love and be loved, but 
also the alternatives to petting. 

Finally, dating proves to have value in training young people in the 
art of democratic give and take. Girls are allowed more initiative in 
dating than they were in old-fashioned courting days and often stage 
events in which they assume the costs of the party. This equalitarian 
relationship carries over into later courtship, engagement, and marriage 
relations and makes for a more democratic marriage and family life. 

Selected Readings 

DUVALL, EVELYN MiLLis, Facts of Life and Love (New York: Association 

Press, 1950), chaps. 5-8. 

, Family Living (New York: Macmillan, 1950), chaps. 811. 

KIRKENDALL, LESTER, AND OSBORNE, RUTH, Dating Days (Chicago: Science 

Research Associates, 1949), Pamphlet. 
LANDIS, JUDSON T., AND LANDis, MARY G., Personal Adjustment, Marriage and 

Family Living (New York: Prentice-Hall, 1950), chaps. 4, 5, 7. 
MERRILL, FRANCIS, Courtship and Marriage (New York: Sloane, 1949), 

Chap. 4. 


(Boston: Heath, 1948), Chap. 10. 

WINCH, ROBERT F., The Modern Family (New York: Holt, 1952), Chap. 16 
and Appendix, "Dating, Rating, and College Fraternities." 

Technical References 

CHRISTENSEN, HAROLD, "Dating Behavior as Evaluated by High School Stu- 
dents," American Journal of Sociology (May, 1952), LVII, No. 6, pp. 

CONNOR, RUTH, AND HALL, EDITH, "The Dating Behavior of College Fresh- 
men and Sophomores," Journal of Home Economics (April, 1952), Vol. 
44, No. 4, pp. 278-281. 



Minnesota Students/' American Journal of Sociology (September, 1945), 
pp. 114-125. 

KOLLER, MARVIN, "Some Changes in Courtship Behavior in Three Genera- 
tions of Ohio Women," American Sociological Review (June, 1951), 
pp. 366-370. 

LANDIS, PAUL, "Personality Differences of Girls from Farm, Town, and 
City," Rural Sociology (March, 1949), pp. 10-20. 

LOWRIE, SAMUEL, ''Dating Theories and Student Responses," American So- 
ciological Review (June, 1951), pp. 334-340. 

REMMERS, H. H., AND HACKETT, c. G., Let's Listen to Youth (Chicago: Sci- 
ence Research Associates, 1950), 49 pages. 

ROCKWOOD, LEMO, AND FORD, MARY, Yout/i, Marriage, and Parenthood (New 
York: Wiley, 1945). 

STONE, CAROL, "Sorority Status and Personality Adjustment," American So- 
ciological Review (August, 1951), pp. 538541. 

WOLFORD, OPAL POWELL, "How Early Background Affects Dating Behavior," 
Journal of Home Economics (1948), No. 40, pp. 505-506. 


In Deeper than Ever 


How do you get in so deep? 

Are lovers' quarrels normal? 

Do friends push the couple even closer together? 

Should girls be given more freedom in getting their man? 

What about dating bureaus? 



ity of the man-woman status. At one time courtship referred to a proc- 
ess of persuading, or courting, during which the swain-in-love won the 
affections of his fair lady who was ostensibly not in love. Courtship 
today has been preceded by casual dating in which little or no commit- 
ment is expected, and consists less of a persuading period than a process 
of mutual involvement leading to a formal commitment in engagement. 

Dating, courtship, and engagement are general terms used popularly 
to denote varying degrees of commitment in the sifting and sorting of 
the sexes into marrying couples. There is some appearance of orderli- 
ness in the stages from lesser to greater degrees of involvement. 

Individuals may shift within these stages of involvement experienc- 
ing some of the stages and not others. Some are arrested at an inter- 
mediate stage and find it difficult to progress beyond that point. The 
wary bachelor and the uncoquettish spinster are examples. 

Persons high on the popularity scale may keep several affairs going 
concurrently. Generally as the stage of involvement progresses the 
number of relationships maintained decreases sharply. Courtship, as 
we use the term in this chapter, begins with the stages of involvement 


in which the field has narrowed down, and one relationship has taken 
precedence over all others. 

In the pages which follow, the social psychology of courtship involve- 
ment unfolds. Dating activities and skills constituted the focus of the 
last chapter. In this discussion we shift to the relationships and bonds 
of sentiment which grow up between dating individuals. 

Several forces are at work to forge the bonds of sentiment which 
change the pair from a casual twosome to an engaged couple. Powerful 


"Going steady 
with private 
informal engagement 

Not dating '" : W?&&&Cdsuol dating only 

physical attractions are at work in heterosexual dating. Pride in having 
and holding are anticipatory of mutual ego-involvement. Finally, shared 
activities, whether recreation oriented or work oriented, create bonds of 
sentiment which are strangely strong. As these three processes support 
one another in the interactions of steady dating, courtship, a process of 
mutual involvement, ensues. 

The Involvement Process 1 

The involvement process begins in dating, at which time there may be 
little serious intent, and ends in a climax of powerful emotional re- 
sponses which are most evident in the engagement and honeymoon 

1 We present the following discussion with acknowledgments to Willard Waller, 
who first developed the approach we are taking in his book, revised by Reuben Hill, 
The Family: A Dynamic Interpretation (New York: Dryden Press, 1951), pp. 176 
190, and urge you to regard it as typical only of the middle class courtships in Amer- 
ica. No single courtship conforms in all details to the picture we shall present, but 
thousands approximate it in one or more ways. 


periods. Human beings act upon one another emotionally when they are 
thrown into intimate relations. As emotions build up in one they are 
communicated contagiously to the other. Unless there is opportunity 
for release, the climax which is attained may reach great proportions. 
Here is the way it looks in the anger response: A mother may start the 
morning gay and relaxed, with a song on her lips, and may hardly no- 
tice the noise and bickering of the children. All too typically, frustra- 
tions pile up as the day gets under way. She finds the toaster doesn't 
work, the coffee cream is sour, her husband gets up late, is touchy and 
critical, and dashes off without kissing her good-by. The hot water 
faucet was left on all night and so there isn't any hot water for her 
dishes. She bears all this with patience and forbearance, but at 9:30, a 
half hour late already, the cleaning woman calls to say she's sorry but 
she guesses she won't be able to come today because Mrs. B. needs her 
to clean up after a party. The mother's forbearance cracks wide open, 
and a disproportionately heated anger response is unleashed. The clean- 
ing woman doesn't understand it and is hurt. "She was such a nice lady 
all the other days, I wonder what's eating her?" 

Courtship is a summatory process which builds up in much the same 
fashion, with many little experiences, some pleasant and some irritating, 
each affecting the other, and leaving the parties more involved than be- 
fore. Each person becomes increasingly committed in his own eyes and 
in the eyes of the other. Once reaching a certain level of intensity, the 
process gets a movement of its own. It creates its own demands and 
needs, and each member finds himself more and more in need of the 
other to satisfy the new appetites which have been developed. The 
process tends to be irreversible after a certain momentum is reached, 
and the couple find they can't stop with being just good friends. 2 Some 
insightful couples have described the experience as not unlike an emo- 
tional build-up which occurs in a religious revival. The religious feel- 
ings mount as persons interact emotionally. The emotions of the more 
excitable in the congregation build up the slower, and, eventually, all 
experience conversion and the calm which comes with being sure they 
are right. 

What are the specific components of the involvement process in this 
movement from casual dating to the emotional climax of engagement? 
When the brake is taken off a car on a hill, the car may start slowly 

2 Ibid., p. 181. 


enough at first, but there are the possibilities of excitement even at the 
beginning. The components of the courtship process are present in 
the dating period, but are kept in leash by powerful inhibitions until the 
man, at least, is economically and psychologically ready to take the con- 
sequences of emotional involvement. 

Coquefry. The involvement process begins with coquetry, behavior 
which invites to amorous adventure. It is seen in the toning up of the 
organism which occurs when boy and girl meet. The smile of the boy 
when he sees a pretty girl is automatic, and he takes her in with a glance 
which leaves nothing out. Her blush is evidence that she knows he sees 
her, and her own coquetry is expressed in her sparkling eyes and flashing 
smile. Both sense the coltish impulse to kick about with their feet, 
which they suppress in favor of tossing the head, laughing, and giggling. 

Coquetry is found in all cultures and has been described beautifully 
in the literature of many peoples. Its tricks are legion. Small hints of 
interest are given, and hints of erotic possibilities with alternate advance 
and recession; great interest is followed by mock modesty, by teasing. 
Teasing is one of the main techniques of coquetry by which tension is 
stimulated in the other person to a higher level; the impulse is to chase 
and be chased, but never quite to catch or be caught. 

The Line. In America a familiar accompaniment and expression of 
coquetry is "the line." The line is an exaggeration of our feelings, as if 
the feelings we exhibit in coquetry were not enough. It is used by both 
sexes and is called variously "handing her a line," or "laying it on"; 
among the Irish it is called "blarney." When you first meet a girl you 
profess to be greatly impressed by her charms, and you hand her a line. 
You don't expect to be taken too seriously or you will take flight. But 
you want to be taken somewhat seriously, and so does she. Neither 
knows how much is line and how much is sincerity. 

The line was especially well developed by the lovemaking knights of 
Arthur's mythical court. Much of our line is outright copying of these 
lovers of old, and it is best done in parts of the South where, relatively 
speaking, women still occupy a somewhat exalted position. The typical 
gallant young Southerner at the slightest provocation can string a line of 
sugared words and compliments which will delight any female listener. 

The line covers up real emotional involvements by exaggeration. 
Under the soft words may be conflict, because each has the uneasy feel- 


ing that he is being tricked. Each avoids being caught by the loaded 
words of the other each wishes, however, to dominate the fantasy of 
the other and to set him to dreaming. 8 

Each tends to become involved in his own line, which he comes to 
believe in part, but each worries because the other doesn't reveal the ex- 
tent to which he is sincere. A sense of insecurity arises from not know- 
ing just where they stand, and the lovers quarrel. 

Lovers' Quarrels. The line finally becomes so burdensome that it has 
to be broken through, and the crisis comes in a good quarrel followed 
by crying and releasing of tension. Each reveals in the process how 
much he truly cares for the other, and the pair come to take themselves 
more seriously. The quarrel tends to redefine the situation upward. 4 
The pair make up with a glorious sense of satisfaction and are more in- 
volved than before. 

Common Interests. Quarrels leave the pair still using the line, but 
with more security and with a tenderness developing that wasn't there 
before. Each is surer of the other and both reach out to claim things 
which tie them together. Common interests further love involvements 
by giving the pair a common universe of discourse. The lovers can ex- 
clude the rest of the world, and they feel a sense of superiority as they 
talk on and on about things they understand better than anyone else in 
the world. 

Increasing Intimacy. Coquetry enhanced by the mutual interchange 
of lines and the build-up of common interests brings the pair increas- 
ingly together. The line alone encourages physical intimacy, and love 
gestures confirm the sincerity of the verbal "I love you." The other per- 
son becomes a bona fide love object to be reckoned with not just an- 
other date, but a person with feelings. Feelings of tenderness develop, 
and the lover finds himself more sincere than before, and impressed with 
his moral obligation to the other who believes in him so implicitly. 

Idealization. Another component of love involvement, which owes 
some of its development to the line, is idealization. In the line all the 
desirable characteristics of the other are stressed to the exclusion of the 
annoying or disturbing characteristics, and it is not uncommon for young 

s Ibid., p. 185. 

4 Courtship quarrels are in contrast with divorce-directed quarrels which tend to 
define the situation downward. See our discussion of quarrels of alienation, pp. 


people to become so enamored of the love object that they come to be- 
lieve their own line. The lover forgets his sweetheart's crooked teeth, 
her so-so complexion, and her stringy hair, and remembers only her 
lovely eyes and regal carriage. The greatest compliment a lover can be 
paid is to be told, " You're different." Waller tells the story of a young 
man who was very conscious of a wart on his chin and went to the ex- 
pense of an operation to remove it. After it had healed, he presented 
himself to his fiancee. "Notice anything different about my face?" The 
moment was embarrassing; she had never noticed the wart in the first 

Idealization results in each replacing the other with an imaginary 
person to whom he reacts. Separation for brief periods tends to accen- 
tuate this process. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, because the 
real person's presence gives way to the imaginary one. Each feels trou- 
bled that his own weaknesses are not seen, but doesn't try too hard to 
expose them. 5 

Couple Unity. In the midst of this process couple unity develops. 
Favored by the development of common interests which act to exclude 
the public and to give the pair a feeling of superiority, the couple reach 
out and seize upon evidences that they were meant for each other. One 
couple in the course of their daily walk simultaneously focused their at- 
tention upon a certain mountain peak glittering in the sun and called it 
"their mountain." They took every opportunity thereafter to admire 
this symbol of their unity. Years later they returned to the exact spot 
to get another view of the mountain which had come to mean so much 
to them during their courtship period. 

Early in the development of unity, rings or other articles will be ex- 
changed to crystallize and render tangible that elusive "we feeling" 
which they sense but can't describe. As each leaves the other, he car- 
ries away a reminder of their growing unity. It is as if the exchanged 
articles could somehow summon the presence of the loved one, and the 
separation is thereby made more bearable. 

Another development in this process is the growth of a special lan- 

5 Unfortunately for later adjustments, the greater the idealization, the greater is 
the disillusionment which must follow in the marriage period. But couples should 
remember it was their imagination which cheated them, not marriage! For a descrip- 
tion of idealization among couples separated by war, see W. Edgar Gregory, "The 
Idealization of the Absent," American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 50, No. i (July, 
1944), pp. 53-54- 


guage between the two, which they alone can understand. They de- 
velop their own idioms, pet names, and inflections which tend to alien- 
ate any third person and make him realize that two is company but 
three is a crowd. Left more and more together, the pair build up a 
shorthand language of symbols which obviates the necessity of complet- 
ing sentences. Conversation is speeded up tremendously. Their lan- 
guage may look and sound to the outsider like a combination of nudges, 
knowing winks, and half-finished sentences, with poorly repressed mirth 
at things the outsider doesn't think funny at all. The jokes are hardest 
of all for the intruder to understand. They can be fully appreciated 
and understood only by the couple themselves. The jokes grow funnier 
the more frequently they are repeated, because they develop unseen 
nuances and are attached to other associations of a pleasant nature in 
the relationship. In summary, the process of developing pair unity is 
one of building a separate history and culture which the pair alone can 
understand. The relationship is stabilized in direct proportion to its 
success in throwing the pair on its own resources and in excluding, 
thereby, rivals and other members of the public. 

Friends Encourage a Public Announcement. All of these activities of 
the couple have not escaped the eyes of friends, who play a very impor- 
tant role in furthering love involvements. Whenever a young man and 
young woman appear together, even in the casual dating stage, they risk 
being identified as a likely marriage pair by well-wishers. Friendly gos- 
sip "We hear that Bob and Mary are getting serious" gets back to 
the ears of the participants. Gossip columns of community and campus 
newspapers are widely read and further the public's identification of the 
pair. There is something about being identified by the public which 
changes the relationship. The sense of moral obligation on the part of 
the man, particularly, is a function partly of what the public thinks of 
his affair. Yesterday he might have been asked by a relative of the girl 
what his intentions were; today his conscience asks him the same ques- 
tion and is quite as effective in furthering his feeling of obligation to 
clarify things. The talk of people acts as further pressure to drop the 
exaggerations of the line and become more sincere in the relationship. 
"People are saying we are going steady but you haven't said a word 
about it. Margaret even asked me if we were engaged. The nerve. . . ." 
They quarrel, and in making up, many of the problems concerning their 


status which have given them the jitters are cleared up. The discussion 
and redefinition of the situation enables them to explain satisfactorily 
to themselves and to the public where they stand. 

The public plays its part in clarifying the situation by treating the 
two as a unit, arranging for them to be together, inviting them to social 
affairs together. When a friend meets one member of the couple, he 
asks about the other member and expresses inferentially the hope that 
all is well between them. The pair come to feel that the public ap- 
proves of the match and expects something to come of it. This sanc- 
tioning in itself has a pushing effect and changes the nature of the rela- 
tionship subtly but effectively. Much of the exciting novelty of the 
relation is lost, but in its place comes a sense of responsibility and sta- 
bility. If the pair are emotionally built up to a certain point, all it may 
take is a suggestion from a friend that they act as if they were engaged 
to crystallize the situation. It seems only natural and right to make a 
public announcement of their involvement, and a formal engagement 
takes place. 

Variations from the Typical. As we have already warned, no single 
courtship will necessarily embody all of the components described, and 
many individual courtships will vary greatly from the pattern just pre 
sented. Young people who have come through courses in marriage and 
the family rarely take the line as seriously as described here, with the 
result that they build up fewer illusions about each other and indulge 
in relatively little idealization. Indeed, the courtship remains much 
more on the companionship level, and the emotions tend to be enjoyed 
on the spot rather than built up toward an explosive release at the 
honeymoon stage. These couples carry over into marriage fewer illu- 
sions about one another but nevertheless develop considerable fondness 
for each other as persons. They rarely build up ideas of the other as the 
incarnation of perfection so characteristic of those who have gone in for 
extreme idealization. 

The courtship pattern followed by young people in isolated rural 
areas may also vary greatly from that of the middle class urban couple 
described in the foregoing pages. Rural courtships may conform more 
closely to those of the last generation and move more naturally and 
easily from keeping company to serious courtship to engagement and 
marriage. Each step in the process is well marked. Moreover, the 


couple have probably known one another for so long that there is little 
possibility of extreme idealization. The line is not likely to take such 
exaggerated form and would not be taken seriously if it did. 

A third variation is seen in the courtships of war and postwar couples 
who have telescoped the dating and courtship and engagement periods 
in favor of immediate marriage. 

These three variations from the patterns regarded as typical of the 
courtship process remind us of the range which exists in America. A 
more detailed consideration of the changes in courtship patterns which 
have occurred in the last three generations may give us the perspective 
we need to understand courtship today. 

Changes in Courtship Patterns 

The finding of a mate, and the details of arranging the betrothal, was 
until frontier days the prerogative of parents, and still is in many coun- 
tries. Freedom of choice in this country dates from the days when all 
the eligible men and all the eligible women were known by the entire 
community. Young ladies knew from childhood the men who might 
come "a-courtin'." Rarely would a stranger be permitted to compete 
for the hand of a local belle. Freedom of choice was limited to the lo- 
cal eligibles and was therefore safe enough. 

In the more settled towns of the Atlantic seaboard the problem was 
handled with prosaic formality. A formal introduction was followed by 
careful supervision of the relationship. A good girl refused to talk to 
any man who had not been first vouched for by a friend, and even then 
she consulted her parents for their approval. This system operated to 
limit the contacts of genteel young ladies to a relatively select group of 
eligible young men and discouraged social relations between ineligible 
women and men of good birth. Girls in those days had fewer oppor- 
tunities to circulate, but the conditions under which they met men were 
conducive to the type of prolonged acquaintance necessary to judge 
men as potential marriage partners. 

Today, there is less likelihood of marrying one's first love, and some- 
what greater opportunity for exploring the field to find what one's pref- 
erences are. 6 Under the contemporary system, if there are years of 

6 A study which reveals clearly differences in courtship patterns in three genera- 
tions is Marvin H. Roller's "Some Changes in Courtship Behavior in Three Genera- 
tions of Ohio Women," American Sociological Review, Vol. 16, No. 3 (June, 1951), 


professional training ahead, it is possible through dating to maintain 
contact with the opposite sex until marriage proves feasible. 

A number of trends in courtship customs can be established from the 
contrasts between the beginning and the middle of the 2oth century: 


1 Dating and courtship begin at earlier age 

2 More frequent contact between the sexes 

3 Dating and courtship last until later at night 

4 More privacy for dating and courting pairs 

5 Less supervision and chaperonage 

6 More general acceptance of "going steady" 

7 Wider range of patterns of intimacy and sex play 

8 Many more discussable topics during dating and courtship 

9 Higher readiness for education and guidance in courtship 
10 Courtship culminates earlier in engagement and marriage 

Difficulties in the Courtship System 

Our somewhat unique pattern of freedom of choice has survived as an 
integral part of the courtship system today, but the community and 
neighborhood controls which helped it work in the colonial days have 
largely disappeared, particularly in cities. Blind dates are followed more 
often than not by regular dates without the slightest reference to the 
possibilities of parental approval or disapproval. 

Another way of looking at courtship is as a device to sort out the 
compatible from the incompatible pairs of young people and provide 
the steps for leading the former to marriage and the latter back into cir- 
culation. If we had a courtship system which meshed well with the 
other parts of our changing culture, we should have fewer unhappy mar- 
riages and obviously many fewer divorces. The divorce rate is closely 
tied up with the number of poorly mated pairs who become engaged de- 
spite a minimum of common interests, and whose experiences in the 
engagement period are too superficial to reveal incompatibility. What 

pp. 366-370. Koller studied 111 grandmothers averaging 78 years of age, 118 moth- 
ers averaging 48 years, and 140 married daughters averaging 23 years of age. The 
daughters reported over four times as many dates per week as their grandmothers. 
They circulated more widely and considered more men seriously as spouses before 
settling on the man they finally married. The earlier generations averaged longer 
engagements (11 months, 9 months, and 6 months respectively), but covered less 
territory in their premarital discussions and agreements. 


has happened to our mate-finding machinery to break it down so com- 

Freedom of Choice Breaks Down. The courtship system of free choice 
has broken down as America has become urbanized. The conditions 
which produced the system of free choice have disappeared, and it is 
incumbent upon social engineers to devise new machinery or streamline 
the old. Sufficient research has been made regarding the situation to 
show the directions social planning for courtship should take. One au- 
thority lists four general needs: i. the need for more initiative in court- 
ship by girls; 2. the need for removing restraints upon the employment 
of women, such as the ban on married teachers, so that they would not 
be limited in their selection to men who could immediately provide full 
maintenance; 3. the need to increase opportunities for circulation of 
young people among several groups for a more varied experience and 
deeper companionship before a selection is made; and 4. the need for 
premarital counseling services to enable individuals to utilize the re- 
sources at their disposal. 7 

In frontier days men greatly outnumbered women, and the passive 
role of women did not seriously handicap them in obtaining desirable 
husbands. Today the sex ratio is reversed in many areas, and nowhere 
are there very many men to spare. 8 To meet this changed situation, the 
initiative in courtship should be taken more equally by both sexes. We 
grant the right of a woman to equal education and to equal freedom of 
choice of vocation and profession; at least the trend is in that direc- 
tion. It is inconsistent, then, to continue the traditional courtship 
practice just because it is traditional. The newer findings of mental hy- 
giene specialists indicate that the passive method by which women must 
lie in wait makes for greater frustration and more neurotic adjustments 
than the active program of pursuit permitted, as yet, for men only. 9 

7 See Joseph K. Folsom's discussion of this problem in his book, The Family 
and Democratic Society (New York: Wiley, 1943), pp. 531-543. 

8 For a more detailed discussion of the sex ratio and its effects on the prospects 
for marriage, see pp. 155156. 

9 In our discussion of the democratic date earlier, we discussed some of the femi- 
nine devices to arrange dates, initiate acquaintances, and assume a fair share of the 
burden of costs. Provocative discussions of the psychology of women are developed 
in: Karl Menninger, Love against Hate (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1942); and 
Helene Deutsch, Psychology of Women (New York: Grune and Stratton, 1944). 
Further understanding of the cultural determination of femininity should be sought 
beyond these strictly psychiatric analyses. 


Recommended Improvements 

The proposal to increase greatly the opportunities for circulation of 
young people among several groups for a more varied experience and 
deeper companionship before making their selection strikes at the heart 
of the courtship problem. Gone are the limitations of the past, the 
barriers of formal introductions and parentally controlled courtships, 
but the facilities for bringing young people together in an atmosphere 
that is conducive to courtship have been slow to make their appearance. 
The need is particularly great in the larger cities where contacts between 
people are usually transitory and superficial. Letters such as the follow- 
ing are not uncommon in the collection of requests received by social 

... I'm definitely disgusted with myself for not being able to go out and 
find romance as others do but frankly, it's reached the point where I'm 
actually becoming morbid over my social deficiency the more I try to fight 
it, the further back I seem to go. I don't know of anyone that can actually 
be of any constructive help, my friends are as much in the dark as I am 
when it comes to getting a girl friend. . . . When quitting time comes at 
the office, I hate to leave because it only means a lonely and empty eve- 
ning. . . . Psychiatrists have told me, get married, it will give you a new 
set of social values. . . . Really that was just rubbing it in, because secretly 
that is what I've always wanted more than anything in life. . . . What I 
want isn't unreasonable it's the very essence of society it's no more than 
millions of couples since time immemorial have accepted as a matter of 
fact. . . . Chicago ought to have one of these [introduction services] for 
fellows like me. 

There is a holdover of the romantic notion that the first meeting of 
two lovers must seem accidental and that their love must be confirmed 
by the evidence of fate having brought them together. There remains, 
therefore, a certain amount of resistance to the devices invented by more 
ingenious young people to widen their horizons, such as dating bureaus, 
dating exchanges, introduction services, and acquaintance bureaus. Dat- 
ing bureaus on college campuses have sometimes failed because they 
attract mainly those most in need of an introduction service. Once 
students identify the bureaus as containing mainly the names of the 
socially inept, the project falls through, even though many may have 
been helped. Introduction services in large communities have usually 


fared better. 10 Established primarily to widen the circle of acquaint- 
ances rather than to arrange marriages, these services have succeeded 
where more formal arrangements have failed. The director of one such 
service described his clientele as composed of normal young people of 
fairly high education who, though able to find some companionship, 
were eager to be more selective in regard to tastes and interests.- The 
conclusions and recommendations contained in his report in May, 1941, 
are distinctly quotable: 

. . . they were an exceptionally fine type of young people, and their high 
average education, as well as conversations I had with them, indicate they 
approached the idea with a minimum of emotional resistance against the 
"stigma" of a dating bureau (which, after all, it was) and especially against 
a plan using a methodical, scientific approach to something which is not, un- 
der present social customs, ordinarily susceptible to anything but the usual 
haphazard, accidental, inspirational, romantic approach. In other words, 
these young people were better qualified than the average to perceive the 
breakdown of the older system and the necessity of something new and 

As a result of the experience obtained from the experiment ... I have 
come to the conclusion that the difficulties might be overcome fairly well. 
The method, consisting of tests, rating, references, and matching according 
to principles developed in recent researches (referring here to such tests as 
the Moss-Hunt-Omwake Social Intelligence Test, the Pressey Senior Classi- 
fication test, and Bernreuter Personality Inventory furnished by the Psycho- 
logical Corporation and to the researches of Dr. Kelley) is, I believe, fun- 
damentally sound. If we are going to accept people as they are, and try to 
find the best combinations under those circumstances without trying to 
change people themselves, something of this very nature must eventually be 
adopted. . . . 

The procedure, however, should be thoroughly revamped, in the light of 
current social customs. It appears to me that the principal emotional resist- 
ances are as follows: i. the fear (often based on past experience) of getting 
"stuck" when on a "blind date," 2. the dislike of anything that approaches 
romance and luck from a "cold-and-calculating" angle, based (a) on the sci- 
entific methods employed and (b) on the fact that it was necessary to make 
a charge for the service, which was self-supporting. 

Therefore, any new plan, if it is to succeed in numbers reached, must op- 
erate on a non-profit, unintentional basis. It occurs to me that this would 
be done best by adopting the program in some already existing organization 

10 For a very optimistic account of a nonprofit introduction service in Newark, 
New Jersey, see Leigh Mitchell Hodges, "Introduction Please," Reader's Digest, 
September, 1942, pp. 15-18. 


which is of such a nature that the interviews and tests can be given ostensibly 
for some regular purpose of the organization. 11 

The advantage of this social invention, which is no more incredible 
than the first television, is that it may be adapted with success by 
church groups, youth agencies, and counseling services as part of their 
youth service programs. These agencies are rapidly building up staffs 
of workers competent to carry out the procedure of a "friend-finding" 
bureau (interviewing, personality inventories, card indexing, and so on). 
The resistances to the procedure can be circumvented at first by the 
suggestions made above. The results should be a~ greatly improved 
courtship and mate-finding system for America. 

Ideally, young people should have abundant opportunity to meet 
members of the opposite sex with a variety of interests and tastes and 
from a variety of economic and social backgrounds. They should, how- 
ever, become sufficiently well acquainted with perhaps a dozen persons 
to determine whether there is a basis for marriage. Here, indeed, is an- 
other area in which social invention is needed: Many more boys are met 
than formerly, but girls know few of them on a basis adequate for judg- 
ing their availability as husbands. 

We will pick up in the next chapter the changes in the engagement 
as an institution, which need to be made to complete the process of 
sifting and choosing, which, we have shown, starts seriously in court- 
ship. Dating and courtship may be the period of shuffling and pairing 
the players into what appear to be compatible twosomes, but the en- 
gagement period is the first official test of the pairing. When courtship 
is successful in bringing together congenial young people the engage- 
ment is likely to be less stormy. In any event, the engagement occupies 
the bottleneck position through which most marriages-to-be pass, and 
one of its assignments is to discourage mismatings. Our attention shifts 
at this point, then, to the engagement. 

Selected Readings 

BOWMAN, HENRY A., Marriage for Moderns (New York: McGraw-Hill, 

1948), chaps. 6-8. 
CHRISTENSEN, HAROLD T., Marriage Analysis (New York: Ronald Press, 


11 Report of Joseph Clawson of New York City in Joseph K. Folsom, The Fam- 
ily and Democratic Society (New York: Wiley, 1943), pp. 542-543. 


DUVALL, EVELYN MiLLis, Facts of Life and Love (New York: Association 
Press, 1950), chaps. 9 and 14. 

DUVALL, SYLVANUS, Before You Marry (New York: Association Press, 1949). 

LANDIS, JUDSON T., AND LANDis, MARY c., Building a Successful Marriage 
(New York: Prentice-Hall, 1948), Chap. 4. 

MEAD, MARGARET, Male and Female (New York: Morrow, 1949), "Pre- 
Courtship Behavior and Adult Sex Standards," Chap. 14. 

MERRILL, FRANCIS E., Courtship and Marriage (New York: Sloane, 1949), 
chaps. 4, 5. 

SKIDMORE, REX A., AND CANNON, ANTHON s., Building Your Marriage (New 
York: Harper, 1951), Chap. 5. 

WALLER, WILLARD, AND HILL, REUBEN, The Family: A Dynamic Interpreta- 
tion (New York: Dryden Press, 1951), Chap. 10. 

Technical References 

BECKER, HOWARD, AND HILL, REUBEN, Family, Marriage and Parenthood 
(Boston: Heath, 1948), chaps. 7, 8. 

BURGESS, ERNEST w., AND LOCKE, HARVEY, The Family (New York: Ameri- 
can Book, 1945), Chap. 12. 

BURGESS, ERNEST w., AND WALLIN, PAUL, Engagement and Marriage (Chi- 
cago: Lippincott, 1953). 

FOLSOM, JOSEPH K., The Family and Democratic Society (New York: Wiley, 
1943), Chap. 16. 

Courtship Experience of College Students," American Sociological Re- 
view, Vol. 10 (1945), pp. 619-626. 

NIMKOFF, M. F., AND WOOD, A. L V "Courtship and Personality," American 
Journal of Sociology, Vol. 53 (1948), pp. 263-269. 

WALLER, WILLARD, "The Rating-Dating Complex," American Sociological 
Review, Vol. 2 (1937), pp. 727-734. 

WINCH, ROBERT F., The Modern Family (New York: Holt, 1952), Chap. 16. 












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Are short engagements better than long ones? 

Once you are engaged, what are your obligations? 

What can an engaged couple do to prepare themselves for marriage? 

What sorts of engagements ought to be broken? 

Should engagement mean monopoly? 


tions and duties, varies tremendously from couple to couple. For many 
it is regarded as an end in itself, like a degree or a diploma, rather than 
a period of preparation for greater responsibilities in marriage and fam- 
ily life. For many it is dominated by the thrills of novelty and new 
experience rather than by the solving of problems and testing of per- 

This chapter is designed to open the eyes of couples who regard en- 
gagement simply as a hurdle before marriage. We hope to show that 
the betrothal has values of its own, and that time invested in a con- 
scientious engagement returns dividends in more successful marriage 
later on. It is a necessary bridge between the irresponsibility of youth 
with its "single blessedness" and the married responsibility of adults. 

The courting relationship to begin with is fairly casual, and there is 
little pain involved if a rupture occurs in the relation. By engagement 
time the couple has been caught up in a whole series of involvements 
through the use of the line, occasional love gestures, idealizations, and 
lovers' quarrels. Couple unity builds up out of common interests and 
the growing feeling that they are meant for each other. Friends take 


notice and encourage them to think of themselves as engaged. They 
are identified in the public's eyes henceforth as a potential married 
couple, and they are aware of the necessity of conforming to social ex- 

Engagement from a Man's Point of View 

Engagement is commonly thought to be mainly of concern to women. 
According to the articulate male critic, engagement is a matter of put- 
ting up with a whim of the fiancee in order that she may have her quota 
of parties and showers, and that she may rate the society pages and may 
be duly congratulated and feted on her good fortune. She often sup- 
ports him in this viewpoint by insisting that a girl gets married only 
once, and she has a right to all the attention and excitement she can 
get out of the preparations which attend the engagement period. Partly 
due to this attitude, many couples have married without bothering with 
engagement at all. Just what are the advantages of an engagement 
which a man should consider, for he is more frequently the offender in 
bypassing this period as needless ceremonial? 

There are real advantages to the man of a full and complete engage- 
ment period, which hold in many instances for his fiancee as well: 

1 The engagement may save a man from being dazzled by the supposed 
glamor of his fiancee, since it gives him opportunities to see her without 
make-up, over a period of time. It is the more enjoyable because it is con- 
ducted in everyday clothes instead of Sunday best. 

2 The engagement may enable a man to become better acquainted with the 
thinking of the emancipated woman of the twentieth century. He may 
find that the present edition will not play the same submissive game his 
mother has and that she expects to be accepted as a person in her own 
right. If he wants a wife who will baby him as mother may have done, 
he may need to look elsewhere. 

3 The engagement gives him an opportunity to get acquainted with his 
fianceVs family and to have his fiancee accepted by his family. In-laws 
are valuable assets, and their approval is most necessary. If they disap- 
prove, they may act as a wedge to separate him from his wife when the 
first crisis develops. 1 

1 Studies of marriage success list "approval of parents" as one of the important 
factors in marital happiness. See Ernest W. Burgess and Leonard S. Cottrell, Jr., 
Predicting Success or Failure in Marriage (New York: Prentice-Hall, 1939), pp. 168- 


4 The engagement gives him time to arrange his financial affairs and to get 
ready for the economic burden of marriage. 

5 The engagement may give him insight into the relative responsiveness of 
his fiancee. Even though there be a minimum of sex experimentation in 
the engagement, such deficiencies as frigidity, lack of capacity for demon- 
strating affection, and childhood fears will show up in the normal love 
play of the engagement. 

6 The engagement gives the man a chance to see whether there is any pos- 
sibility of sharing his business and professional interests with his wife- 
to-be. This is an important factor in the early years of marriage as both 
are struggling to attain a secure economic position. 

7 The engagement gives the man who wants children the opportunity of 
noting in more detail his affianced's attitudes toward children and child 
rearing. (Not all women want children, you know.) 

8 The engagement gives a man a chance to slip into his role of husband 
gradually and to learn some of the ropes while still in the engagement pe- 
riod. Nothing succeeds like success, and the engagement enables the nov- 
ice to succeed by starting him out with premarriage problems and induct- 
ing him slowly into the complications of married life. 

Woman's Point of View 

The feminine reader will recognize here many values of an engagement 
which, when transposed, hold equally well for her. She should be aware 
also of the unusual opportunities the engagement offers for prolonged 
discussions of mutual interest. She can feel perfectly free, now that she 
is engaged, to express her desires and aspiration in marriage. She will 
want to find out the attitudes of her fiance toward the role of the wife 
as homemaker or worker outside the home, his point of view on the is- 
sues of housing, extramarital friendships, handling of money, and so on. 
The initiative which a woman properly takes in this discussion is com- 

170. In America we are inclined to dispose of the mother-in-law and other in-laws 
by a system of avoidance. Any story commiserating the victim of in-law interference 
is sure to get a laugh or a headline; see for example the following clipping from the 
Detroit News: 

"Tom took his wife and two children out to spend a week with her parents in 
the country, while some repairs were being made on the house. 

"At week-end the repair job wasn't finished and Tom telephoned to suggest that 
the missus extend her stay for a few days. 

" 'I will not/ she hissed. 'You come right out and get me. I can't stand living 
with in-laws any longer.' 

" 'What do you mean?' asked puzzled Tom. "They're not my folks; they're 

" 'Well,' said Mrs. Tom defensively, 'after you're married they're all in-laws.' " 


ing to be recognized frankly. Since the engagement period has been 
characterized as the period during which the idea of marriage with this 
particular mate is being explored as a working hypothesis, such discus- 
sions are especially pertinent during this interval. 2 

A third reason for the engagement is to test the sincerity of the pro- 
fessions of affection which occur so frequently in the courtship period. 
The newly engaged want to be assured that the professing of love isn't 
part of the line, that this is really love. The girl wants to feel the ten- 
derness of her affianced without the threat of rivals to disturb her. The 
members of an engaged pair inevitably bring from courtship certain re- 
sentments, memories of injustices and painful jealousy, as a result of the 
insecurity of the relation in competitive courtship days. Now is the 
time to bring out on the table the unresolved differences and conflicts 
which have heretofore plagued the relationship. Each can now speak 
his piece with more security. There are no longer rivals who might take 
immediate advantage of any temporary alienation. It is no longer nec- 
essary to jockey for position. The line, which was used originally to 
cover up the insecurity of the participants, can now be put aside. Peo- 
ple leave the pair alone a lot more now, so they can be quite frank about 
themselves. The period can be one of personality testing and can also 
be one of exploration and experimentation. 

Finally, the young woman knows that it is no longer primarily her 
parents' job, but hers, to investigate the background and future pros- 
pects of the man to whom she is engaged. Presumably she has made 
certain investigations during the courtship period, or she would not have 
become engaged. Within the privacy and intimacy of the new relation- 
ship the more detailed double checks on their reactions to each other 
are invaluable. It is incumbent on the pair to carry on this exploration 
in our crazy-quilt society, because there is no guarantee that our present 
mate-finding machinery has brought together individuals of similar back- 

What, in summary, can the engagement do for our hypothetical 
courtship couple that warrants any further postponement of their mar- 
riage? The engagement has possibilities as a stage for getting better ac- 
quainted without the fear of rivals' cutting in, as an off-stage setting 
where the line, the wisecracking, and the kidding of the courtship may 

2 Hornell Hart and Ella B. Hart, Personality and the Family (rev. ed.; Boston: 
Heath, 1941), p. 178. 


be exchanged for the more honest and earnest discussion. It has pos- 
sibilities as a testing ground for the congeniality of personalities, as a 
school for solving differences and finding areas of agreement, as a wait- 
ing period for the doubting Thomases with their misgivings, and finally 
as a trial period with the public watching and judging. All the processes 
welding a couple together in courtship continue with greater force in 
engagement, but they operate with less uncertainty, because there is less 
danger that the relationship will be disrupted. The engagement period 
makes possible the continuation of these processes which make for soli- 
darity to the point where the relationship can withstand the crises and 
the responsibilities of marriage. 

Length of Engagement 

How long should the engagement be? This is a frequent question in 
marriage classes. As we have pointed out earlier, each engaged couple 
is unique in experience and background, and each interprets engage- 
ment somewhat differently. To answer the question of length of en- 
gagement would require an intimate acquaintance with the history of 
the individual engagement pair. Much depends, for example, on the 
length of acquaintance before engagement and the degree to which the 
couple may have undertaken the personality testing and problem solv- 
ing functions in the pre-engagement period. Many students who have 
read books or attended classes on marriage problems discuss during 
courtship questions which other couples less well oriented postpone for 
the engagement. 

In both the Burgess-Cottrell and the Terman studies of marriage 
success already cited there appears to be a positive relationship between 
length of engagement and marital happiness. 3 The longer couples were 
engaged, the studies showed, the more satisfactory was their later mari- 
tal adjustment. Actually, these statistics may reflect more than appears 
on the surface. There probably was a selection of the hardier couples 
of superior character who could survive a long engagement. We have 
no adjustment scores for those couples whose engagements were broken 
because they attempted to prolong the engagement beyond a sensible 

3 See Lewis M. Terman and associates, Psychological Factors in Marital Happi- 
ness, p. 198; and Burgess and Cottrell, op. cit., p. 167. 


The highest happiness scores in the Burgess study went to those 
married couples who had been engaged for two years or longer before 
marriage. Only 11 per cent of this group showed poor marital adjust- 
ment, while of those who had been engaged less than three months 50 
per cent showed poor adjustment. The mean happiness scores of Ter- 
man's couples went up steadily in relation to length of engagement, 
reaching a peak among those who had been engaged five years or longer. 
One of these authors concludes from his findings that companionship 
rather than romantic love forms the best sustaining force for a mutually 
satisfying love relation. He apparently questions the lasting quality of 
a relation based primarily on romantic love, suggesting that there should 
be an opportunity for the relationship to mature over a considerable pe- 
riod of time before marriage. 4 

The case for fairly long engagements need not rest on these statistical 
studies of marriage success alone. There are obvious values in engage- 
ments which are long enough to prepare couples for marriage. Engage- 
ments need to be long enough to act as a screening device to alienate 
and separate incompatible couples who would otherwise marry, only to 
separate more painfully after some years of marriage. The answer to 
the question of length of engagement is given best, not as a definite 
number of months or years, but in terms of the indefinite ''long enough." 
The engagement, then, should be long enough to perform the many 
functions of testing, discussing, learning, fighting, and loving which un- 
derlie successful marriage. If the student requires a more specific figure, 
it is probably safe to state that the engagement should rarely be shorter 
than six months and rarely longer than two years, depending on the 
length of previous acquaintance and the extent to which the engage- 
ment functions have already been started in the courtship period. 

How long an engagement is too long? Henry Bowman has estab- 
lished rough criteria which may be helpful: 

An engagement is too long if an excessive amount of nervous tension is gen- 
erated; if the couple experience a sense of frustration; if they become more 
than usually tired of waiting; if they grow discouraged; if they become indif- 
ferent to each other; if they begin to accept the status quo as a substitute for 
marriage and lose interest in the latter; if the engagement constitutes more 
than a relatively small fraction of the total period from meeting to wed- 
ding. . . . We wish to counteract the opinion so commonly expressed 

* Burgess and Cottrell, op. tit., p. 168. 


among students to the effect that on the basis of a few months' courtship 
a couple may without risk enter upon an engagement of several years' 
duration. 6 

Engagements in the Face of Separation 

An important variable to be considered in computing the length of the 
engagement period is that of distance, which all too frequently separates 
the engaged couple. The engagement of individuals parted for long pe- 
riods of time because of war, employment, prolonged professional train- 
ing, or other enforced absences is hardly to be compared with the 
engagement of young people actively pursuing the job of mutual explora- 
tion and problem solving day in and day out. Can the functions of en- 
gagement be satisfactorily carried on by correspondence? 

In the ideal engagement, separation immediately after the announce- 
ment would hardly be contemplated. Rather, the announcement should 
normally be followed by a series of mutual investigations during more 
or less constant association. The pair needs time to win the approval 
of the families, relatives, and friends of both parties. This necessitates 
being seen in public together long enough for people to say, "I think 
they make a fine pair; they ought to hit it off nicely." The support of 
the public is not to be disregarded, even in these times, and it is hard 
to obtain public support of the marriage-to-be by correspondence. 
There are, however, several young couples who are working out their 
engagement duties quite conscientiously by correspondence. How are 
they doing it? 

First, every effort is made to keep letters full of information about 
day-to-day experiences which tell about the changes in personality. The 
correspondents go in for frequent exchange of candid photographs and 
snapshots. These keep the couple up to date on physical appearance 
(new clothes, changes in weight, etc.) and give a visual picture of the 
places and people each is meeting. These tokens will later act as a 
source of common experience to tie the couple together. 

Second, the couples find that some questions may be discussed more 
deeply and somewhat more objectively by correspondence than in face- 
to-face chats; for example, attitudes about children, money, religion, a 
wife's working, the use of leisure time, and the place of sex in marriage. 

5 Henry Bowman, Marriage for Moderns (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1948),. 
p. 249. 


Letters most certainly should not preclude many face-to-face talks on 
these subjects at some later date, but during the separation they do 
serve to clear up many questions. 

A third device used by successful correspondents is to refer to par- 
ticularly enjoyable books and newspaper and magazine articles as a 
means of getting the reaction of the other on questions of mutual inter- 
est. "I read an interesting article which you would enjoy. Remember 
your resistance to women working? Tell me what you think of it." 

Finally, the correspondents should make relatively little effort to 
spare the other person the daily details of living. Realistic correspond- 
ence keeps the avenues of communication open frankly and honestly, 
and holds to a minimum the building of illusions of sweetness and light 
when things are actually going pretty poorly. This is an art which needs 
to be worked at how to write what is happening without arousing 
anxiety, and yet not encourage illusory ideas by telling too little. 6 

Certain of the engagement functions will have to wait, to be worked 
out satisfactorily until the pair is reunited. The aspect of marriage 
preparations which has to do with living together in intimate associa- 
tion is an art and takes practice; the skills of getting along together must 
be learned. Engagement by correspondence prepares only for a mar- 
riage in which most contacts are by correspondence and might be good 
preparation for marriage with a traveling salesman. For normal, settled, 
married living, however, there is no substitute for daily association over 
a period of time to learn the art of resolving conflicts, of cooperative 
planning, of joint functioning, all of which are learned only by doing. 

CHECK YOURSELF Which of the following problems might lend themselves to effective 

discussion by correspondence? 

1 Problems of child spacing 

2 Choice of a place for the honeymoon 

3 The quick temper of one of the partners 

4 Source and stability of the man's income 

5 Changing of religion 

6 Handling a mother fixation problem 

* KEY 'ff jo |jod Ajqissod > 'z 'I 

* Confession of misdeeds, of past missteps, are quite another problem and will 
be discussed later in the chapter. 


In brief, in the face of prolonged separation many of the functions 
of the engagement may be satisfactorily carried on by correspondence, 
but a period of association should be planned for before marriage to 
work out the problems of intimate relationships which remain. 

Should Engagement Mean "No Stepping Out"? 

Many of the questions which are raised about the engagement center 
around what is fair and just to expect of betrothed couples separated 
over long periods of time. Should engagement mean monopoly? Is it 
fair to date men other than the affianced? What are the risks of being 
misunderstood and perhaps having the engagement endangered thereby? 

There should be no question about the engagement's being an 
amorous monopoly. Otherwise the relationship is no engagement and 
should be dissolved. There must be a recognition of the devotion each 
has for the other to the exclusion of rivals. Does that preclude dating 
others when the couples are to be separated indefinitely? This problem 
is one for each couple to work out in the light of their own attitudes 
and needs. Some couples will find it to their advantage to continue 
dating while separated, regarding it as recreation and as a valuable so- 
cial experience. Couples who have doubts and mixed feelings may well 
decide to forego the experience of dating others until their own engage- 
ment is more firmly established emotionally. 

In a survey of this problem at the University of Wisconsin, 65 per 
cent of the 608 students studied disapproved of stepping out, and only 
14 per cent approved. The balance were undecided. The Wisconsin 
students were reacting, however, to a situation which differs greatly 
from wartime absences, where engaged couples are separated for long 
periods of time. Henry Bowman of Stephens College, in reviewing the 
problem of engaged college students dating if attending colleges in 
widely separated towns, concludes: "In general it may be said that, un- 
less there are weighty considerations to the contrary, such students 
should date, even while they are engaged." T 

Since a large proportion of social activities everywhere are organized 
around couples, it is important to have a partner in order to participate. 
To miss all these activities is to give up valuable social experience in un- 
derstanding individuals of the opposite sex. After marriage the husband 
7 Bowman, op. tit., p. 253. 


will not abstain from social contact, but will find himself constantly in 
association with persons of both sexes at parties and professional gather- 
ings. Moreover, sooner or later he must learn to accept members of the 
opposite sex as persons rather than as potential marriage partners. He 
will want to be able to associate with them genuinely without the im- 
plication of amorous inclinations. If the engagement is sufficiently es- 
tablished to permit dating without fear of emotional competition, the 
individual couple being best equipped to judge, then dating may well be 
in order. Such dating, moreover, may help to relieve the strain of sepa- 
ration. Bowman adds, "It is also a good test of the, couple's devotion, 
for if their love and trust cannot withstand a simple test like this, they 
are not ready to marry and their engagement is insubstantial." 8 

Several suggestions might well be made to make dating while en- 
gaged less hazardous and more enjoyable: i. Dating should be for 
recreation or pleasure without amorous interest in the other person. 
2. Dating should not be limited to one person exclusively. 3. Dating 
should be with the full understanding and approval of the affianced. 
4. Dating should not be expected to come up to the standards of en- 
joyment of dating with the affianced, and unfavorable comparisons 
should not be made. The casual date is purely for recreation and con- 
venience, whereas dating the affianced has the added lift of the love rela- 
tionship which quite naturally increases the enjoyment. 

Revealing the Past 

Another question which frequently troubles young people entering upon 
an engagement is how much of the past should be revealed to the other. 
In the Wisconsin survey referred to previously more reluctance to re- 
veal the past was found among women than among men; 29 per cent of 
the women disapproved and 33 per cent were undecided; 24 per cent 
of the men disapproved and 33 per cent were undecided. This gives 
some clue to the nature of the problem. Wisconsin women did not wish 
to reveal the past, which might reduce their chances of consummating 
a marriage, and many men felt the same way about themselves. 

Frank discussion should be the order of the day during the engage- 
ment period; indeed, that is one of engagement's major functions. 
However, there is no obligation to rattle all the family skeletons in a 
8 Bowman, op. cit., p. 254. 


recital of past misdeeds and foolish indiscretions. These would be much 
better taken up with your marital counselor or minister or family physi- 
cian or another trained specialist who will hear them out without be- 
coming emotionally involved. 

Whatever cards are put on the table should be laid down before the 
wedding. What items that might have a bearing on the couple's fu- 
ture should come out in the frank discussions of the engagement period? 
Certainly these: i. a previous marriage and any financial obligations 
which that might entail; 2. hereditary or other defects which might in- 
volve reasons for not having children; 3. a history of tuberculosis, heart 
disease, venereal disease, mental breakdown, etc.; 4. an imprisonment 
record; 5. debts or similar obligations which might handicap the mar- 

How Much Intimacy during Engagement? 9 

One of the most difficult of all the questions of the engagement period 
is the one of the extent of physical intimacy. Some caressing and ex- 
pressing of warm affection is normally desired and is definitely helpful 
in the processes of preparation for the intimacies of marriage. But 
while some lovemaking is desirable, full expression of the sex urge in pre- 
marital sex intercourse has hazards of guilt and shame which are ex- 
tremely difficult for many couples to overcome. So the question in- 
evitably comes up, "How far shall we go?" It is wise to have some kind 
of understanding on this matter so that each can notify the other of the 
proximity of the boundaries already set. Such understandings may natu- 
rally emerge out of the contacts themselves. If Jim laughingly whisks 
Mary off his lap with a gentle reminder that she is too much for him at 
the moment, Mary may understandingly accept both her attractiveness 
to her fiance and his response to her. When recognized in time, such 
experiences need not be as frustrating and tantalizing as they are later 
on in the love play. One of the authors worked with a group of en- 
gaged couples in outlining the symptoms of "time to stop and do some- 
thing else" that may be helpful to the student: i. when either is flushed 
and uncomfortable; 2. when either senses an urgency to continue the 
petting; 3. when either finds himself or herself restless and sleepless for 

9 For other discussion of the issues of intimacy before marriage see the discus- 
sion of petting in the chapter on dating, pp. 59-62, and the chapter on sex morality, 
pp. 128-149. 


extended periods after being together; 4. when the love play is an un- 
pleasant memory with aspects of shame or guilt; 5. when being with the 
loved one is fun only when there are physical contacts. The student will 
be able to add his own guideposts to these general ones in setting up his 
own boundaries for engagement conduct. 

Every Engaged Couple Has Doubts 

Engagement uncovers almost as many problems as it solves. Fortunate 
indeed is the couple that does not end the probation period with many 
doubts and mixed feelings. The disillusionment spoken of so frequently 
as occurring during the first year of marriage may come before the wed- 
ding ceremony as a result of the questions raised in the engagement pe- 
riod. Still, it is probably better to face these realities all along the way 
than to meet them unexpectedly in early marriage. 

An engaged couple will do well to recognize at the outset that they 
will have occasional misunderstandings and that these tiffs will be ac- 
companied by mixed feelings and inner doubts. These differences need 
not be a source of shock, however, if the couple expects them to occur 
and concentrates on developing machinery for ironing them out, instead 
of dwelling on the seriousness of the conflicts. 

Engagement is entered into by most people in America during a 
transition period in life between adolescence and adulthood, when most 
young people face doubts and uncertainties. Those who are engaged 
may make the mistake of ascribing these feelings of uneasiness to the 
engagement and the new relationship. Realizing the fact that everyone 
in this stage of life faces many problems may help relieve the situation 
for some; part of the difficulty is just that of growing up. 

One other source of doubt may be in the discrepancy between the 
flesh-and-blood person and the dream the affianced has built up. Un- 
easiness that you are not as wonderful or competent as he or she thinks 
you are is understandable. And, from another angle, many disturb- 
ances occur as one discovers in the engagement period the trick his im- 
agination has played upon him. Bitter and painful quarrels may ensue 
which are hard to resolve. 

The fact that no couple faces marriage with absolute knowledge and 
conviction of its ability to survive the crises ahead remains a source of 



"How can we be mental companions if you're not ready 
to eat when I am?" 

insecurity throughout engagement; the jittery couple applying for a mar- 
riage license is an American stereotype. Anticipating difficulties built 
up from stories of trouble passed on from adults makes for mixed feel- 
ings about marriage itself, and the prospective bride and groom say, 
"We are all right now. Why can't it go on like this indefinitely?" 

Elopement as an Escape. Some couples facing the usual doubts of en- 
gagement feel they may escape part of the responsibility by eloping. An 
elopement is just as much an impulsive escape from the realities of en- 
gagement and marriage as the hysterical breaking of an engagement on 


the eve of the wedding. Although conflict with parents is frequently 
the alleged cause, the desire to escape reality appears prominently. The 
elopement is usually carried off in haste, is inappropriate to the situa- 
tion, and bodes poorly for marital happiness. Paul Popenoe studied a 
group of 738 elopements and found that they were divided among those 
who eloped because of parental objection to the marriage, those who 
eloped to avoid publicity, those who eloped to escape elaborate, expen- 
sive weddings, and those who eloped because of pregnancy. The mari- 
tal adjustments of the eloped couples were observably poorer than those 
of couples married regularly. Apparently their escape from doubts and 
inner conflict was poorly conceived they "jumped from the frying pan 
into the fire." 10 

As we can see from our previous analysis of engagement, there are 
objections to elopement quite apart from the escape element. The elop- 
ing couple are bypassing the testing and exploring functions of the en- 
gagement period, during which the gradual preparation for marriage oc- 
curs. Furthermore, they are alienating their in-laws and friends whose 
support they will need frequently in the days ahead. 

Breaking the Engagement 

There are two ways to escape from an engagement, one by an elope- 
ment and the other by a complete break. Both represent escapes from 
inner misgivings and doubts; they differ merely in the direction of the 

Yet one of the most important functions of the engagement as a so- 
cial institution is to eliminate from marriage those matchings which 
cannot stand the experience of intimate association. Within our cul- 
ture the only trial period before marriage is engagement, which is to say 
that there are many engagements contracted which should be broken 
before marriage. A high rate of broken engagements is preferable to a 
high rate of divorce and desertion. 

The engagement should be entered into with the realization that it 
might be broken. If this possibility is recognized in the beginning, the 
break will be less severe for both persons. Even so, the habits of asso- 
ciation are as difficult to cast off as any other bad habit, such as smok- 

10 See Paul Popenoe, Modern Marriage (New York: Macmillan, 1943), pp. 


ing or drinking, but a broken engagement is less painful than a separa- 
tion after years of marriage. 

What are reasons for breaking an engagement? In general, any 
crisis which changes the basis on which the engagement was launched 
justifies a re-evaluation, with sufficient discussion to arrive at an agree- 
ment as to the proper course to follow. This is good procedure in any 
pair relationship, whether it be engaged partners, marriage partners, 
business partners, or research collaborators. All find it necessary to re- 
view their relationship whenever crises occur, in order to keep the part- 
nership intact. There is strong concensus that the following reasons 
justify re-evaluation of the engagement, with the possible agreement to 
sever the relationship: i. recognition of fundamental feelings of aliena- 
tion arising as a result of the more intimate relations of engagement; 
not just doubts and misgivings, but strong feelings of incompatibility; 
2. recognition that the engagement was made originally under pressure 
from relatives or circumstances, and that the main reason for refraining 
from breaking the engagement is the fear of publicity; 3. recognition 
that either member of the pair is emotionally dependent on parents and 
too immature to stand the rigors of marriage; 4. changes in the economic 
future due to serious accident or health breakdown or similar disaster 
affecting ability to earn a living and carry on the functions of parent- 

These reasons for breaking the engagement will be rejected in indi- 
vidual cases, but they should not be rejected because of fear of publicity, 
fear of admitting that one has made a mistake, fear of homicide or sui- 
cide threats, fear that the break will ruin the other's future. "In the 
great majority of instances, suicide threats never get any further than 
the self-pity stage, and relatively few are ever carried out." lx Threats 
of vengeance or of suicide sprees exhibit a type of immaturity that 
would be highly undesirable in a marriage partner and are ample reasons 
in themselves for breaking the engagement. 

There are two reasons for allowing the girl to announce the breaking 
of an engagement. First, she needs to maintain face among her friends 
and loses status in terms of marriageability unless she is permitted to 
issue the announcement of the break. Second, no breach-of-promise 
suit can be carried out successfully against any man if the woman has 
announced the dissolution of the engagement. Established historically 
11 Bowman, op. cit., p. 260. 


as an indemnity for the woman whose opportunities for marriage were 
impaired by the broken vows, breach-of-promise suits still occur occa- 
sionally. The promise to marry is a legal contract, the breaking of 
which gives grounds for suit for damages; and as recently as 1929 a 
Michigan court awarded $450,000 in a breach-of-promise suit. One of 
the happy results of the improved status of women in our society is the 
growing feeling of disfavor toward breach-of-promise suits. 

CHECK YOURSELF Which of the following engagements should be re-evaluated with 

the possibility of a definite break? 

1 John, engaged to Eunice, was in service and has been missing in action for 

almost two years. 

2 Bob is Catholic, Jeanne is Protestant, and neither will change religion; 

they avoid the subject after three months of engagement. 
3 Jim has returned from two years in the interior of Brazil, broken in health, 

quite possibly a permanent invalid wishes to break his engagement of 

five years' standing with Eloise, since he will be unable to support her and 

a family in his condition. 
4 Jack has broken three engagements and is on the verge of a breakup of the 

fourth with Georgene, of whom his doting mother disapproves. 

5 A week before the marriage Susan meets quite accidentally the former wife 

of Frank, her fiance", and learns details of his life he has never told her. 
His family assure her everything will be all right Frank was only seven- 
teen and infatuated this time it will be different. 

6 John swears he will commit suicide if Dorothy breaks their engagement; he 

waves a revolver to prove it. 

* KEY -pa4Dn|DAa-ej eq pjnou,s 

Building the Engagement into a Marriage 

The engaged couple expects to make a success of their marriage. All 
their plans are laid with that expectation in mind, and the public sup- 
ports them in their resolutions. Some day there will be special orienta- 
tion classes in every community in the country to which engaged cou- 
ples will wend their way, to be introduced to marriage as the civilian 
is processed into army life and as the soldier is processed back into 
civilian life. Great industrial plants consider it important to give their 
new employees weeks of orientation into their policies and objectives, 
as well as into the ways of behavior in the organization, before entrust- 


ing them with free access to the plant. Marriage is worthy of even 
more careful attention. Some communities are now offering classes for 
engaged couples, and there are classes in over five hundred colleges and 
universities. In time young people everywhere will be able to receive 
such instruction. For Sally and Bill who have just announced their en- 
gagement, there are many helpful books and pamphlets available, as 
well as several tests and prediction scales, which are suggestive to the 
couple planning for a successful marriage. 12 

Premarriage Counseling and fhe Premarital Examination. In addition 
to study and testing, the engaged couple preparing for marriage will find 
available professional premarriage counseling services. Few people at- 
tempt to build a home without consulting an architect. Even where 
they have their own ideas about a house, sensible people consult an 
architect to have them checked carefully. The same point of view is 
rapidly becoming current with regard to marriage, which also is given 
design and symmetry only after careful planning and study. Premar- 
riage counseling is becoming increasingly the source of architectural 
charts for the prospective bride and groom. Intelligent couples are say- 
ing, "Nothing's too good for our marriage," and the careful planning 
which their premarriage interviews stimulate gives them a head start on 
less careful students. 

Premarital counseling often starts early in the courtship period and 
continues throughout the engagement. In addition to marriage predic- 
tion scales which test the similarity and compatibility of home and fam- 
ily backgrounds as well as certain social factors, the premarital guidance 
center will have available other personality tests which prove important 
in determining the emotional readiness of individuals for marriage. 

Our earlier discussion of personality in marriage should have proved 
the necessity of understanding the nature of your own personality as 
well as the personality of the person you will marry. These tests in the 
hands of a skilled psychologist can be extremely revealing. Suppose 
they reveal emotional dependence and nervousness, with tendencies 
toward blues and depressions. The counselor may advise remedial at- 
tention just as the physician would advise a couple to postpone having 
a baby until a kidney infection cleared up. The couple will not want 

12 This book attempts to cover many of the questions Sally and Bill will raise. 
In addition, we have supplied a list of readings at the end of each chapter. 


to take a chance on marrying immediately, but will recognize that the 
period in which these questions are best cleared up is during engage- 
ment, not after marriage. 

Some counseling centers describe their premarital guidance as a "pre- 
marital examination." Actually the guidance program may take weeks 
and sometimes longer if problems are uncovered which deserve detailed 
attention. The premarital examination is a personal course of instruc- 
tion, adapted to prepare young people for marriage by giving special at- 
tention to the individual background and specific needs of the couples 
concerned. In general, it includes: i. a review of the personal and fam- 
ily backgrounds in an effort to locate the important factors that may 
influence marriage and avert avoidable mis-mating; 2. a study of the char- 
acteristics of the person, the temperament, disposition, and other emo- 
tional inclinations and attitudes, by means of interviews and tests; 
3. specific sex instructions geared to clear up misconceptions, questions, 
and fears; 4. instruction in the healthiest approach to marriage, its prob- 
lems and responsibilities as well as its possibilities for growth and de- 
velopment; 5. conferences and consultations with both members of the 
couple, and separately at the discretion of the counselor (group confer- 
ences after classes in marriage and family courses also provide helps to 
the engaged couple anticipating marriage); 6. a thorough physical ex- 
amination and conference by the examining physician of the center. 
(See the details covered by the physician in his examination in Chap- 
ter Six, "Marriage and the Facts of Life.") 

The premarital examination is one further means of objectively ap- 
praising the resources an individual couple brings to marriage. 

Social and Legal Requirements for Marriage 

There are certain minimum social requirements for marriage which the 
engaged couple will find enforced by public opinion today. Some of 
these are also legal requirements in many states, and include laws about 
age, race, mental and physical defects, previous marriages, and divorces. 
In America there are fifty-one different jurisdictions with laws gov- 
erning or limiting marriage, and the couple will do well to familiarize 
itself with the legal requirements in its state of residence. No two sets 
of state laws are exactly alike, although there are a few regulations that 
are general throughout the United States. 


In most states the engaged couple would legally be denied a license 
if either party fell into any of the following categories: i. already mar- 
ried; 2. first cousins; 3. insane or feeble-minded; 4. under age gen- 
erally under fourteen for girls, eighteen for boys; 5. having a venereal 
disease; 6. members of different races white-Negro and white-Mon- 
golian combinations prohibited regionally, determined by states. 

CHECK YOURSELF Which of the following conditions would result in the couple's being 

denied a license in most states? 

1 Habitual drunkenness 6 Under twelve years of age 

2 Already married 7 Tubercular 

3 Epilepsy 8 Prison record 

4 Feeble-minded 9 First cousins 

5 Pauper 10 Venereally diseased 

* KEY 01 '6 '9 > 'Z 

Most marriage legislation puts into written form regulations which 
have existed before in unwritten form as custom and public opinion. 
Bigamy, incest, child marriage, and miscegenation were under ban long 
before they became prohibited by law, and offenders were summarily 
dealt with for violating such social regulations by the effective con- 
trols of excommunication, ostracism, and "riding him out of town on 
a rail." 

In addition to the legal requirements, which are for the most part 
stated in negative terms, we have social requirements more or less en- 
forced which represent the desired levels at which marriage should take 

Willingness and ability to carry out the matrimonial obligations of: 

1 Sharing a common residence 

2 Sexual access 

3 Sexual fidelity 

4 Conjugal kindness 

5 Adult responsibility for homemaking 

6 Financial support of dependents 

What has been said about the engagement in this chapter which 
would bear repeating in quick summary? 


1 The pattern in engagement is the best preview available premaritally of 
the marriage pattern for any given couple. 

2 The optimum length of engagement is best stated as "long enough," to 
perform the many functions of testing, discussing, learning, fighting, and 
loving which underlie successful marriage. 

3 All the processes welding a couple together in courtship continue with 
greater force in engagement, but they operate with less uncertainty, be- 
cause there is less danger that the relationship will be disrupted. 

4 The engagement provides opportunity for maximum planning, learning 
how to make jointly choices which both parties can accept and support in- 

5 The engagement operates as a preventive of divorce since in breaking up 
those matchings which cannot stand the experience of intimate associa- 
tion, in effect it brings about a divorce before marriage itself. 

Selected Readings 

BOWMAN, HENRY A., Marriage for Moderns (New York: McGraw-Hill, 

, 1948), Chap. 8. 

CHRISTENSEN, HAROLD T., Marriage Analysis (New York: Ronald Press, 

i 1950), Chap. 9. 

HARPER, ROBERT A., Marriage (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1949), 
Chap. 6. 

LANDIS, JUDSON T., AND LANDis, MARY G., Building a Successful Marriage, 
(New York: Prentice-Hall, 1948), Chap. 8. 

MACE, DAVID R., Marriage (New York: Doubleday, 1952), Chap. 2. 

MAGOUN, F. ALEXANDER, Love and Marriage (New York: Harper, 1948), 
Chap. 7. 

WALLER, WILLARD, AND HILL, REUBEN, The Family: A Dynamic Interpreta- 
tion (New York: Dryden Press, 1951), Chap. 12. 

Technical References 


Failure in Marriage (New York: Prentice-Hall, 1939), Chap. 10. 

BURGESS, ERNEST w., AND WALLIN, PAUL, Engagement and Marriage (Chi- 
cago: Lippincott, 1953). 

KUHN, MANFORD H., 'The Engagement: Thinking about Marriage," in How- 
ard Becker and Reuben Hill (eds.), Family, Marriage, and Parenthood 
(Boston: Heath, 1948). 

TERMAN, LEWIS M., AND ASSOCIATES, Psychological Factors in Marital Hap- 
piness (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1938), pp. 197-201, 319-335. 

WINCH, ROBERT F., The Modern Family (New York: Holt, 1952), pp. 434- 


Reproduced by permission. Copyright 
1945 The New Yorker Magazine, Inc. 


What are the sex differences between men and women? 

How does conception take place? 

When is it most likely? 

What causes impotence? 

How are venereal diseases contracted and why are they serious? 
What should be checked in an adequate premarital examination? 


marry and establish their right to live together as man and wife. Long 
before that, many questions about the nature of man and woman, their 
life together in marriage, and their preparation for it, are common 
among young people today. This chapter reviews the main areas of 
interest with a presentation of pertinent facts checked and rechecked 
with leading research workers and practicing physicians. The simplest 
medical terms: names of the sex organs, functions, and conditions are 
italicized when first used throughout the material, as an aid to adequate 
vocabulary, so often helpful especially in this area of life. 

Sex Organs and How They Work in the Man 

The male sex glands are two firm oval bodies about one and one half 
inches long which hang from the lower part of the front of the body be- 
tween the thighs in a sac called the scrotum. They are called testes 
and have two very important roles to play. They produce a hormone 

1 10 






From Life and Growth by Alice V. Keliher (Appleton-Century) 


(chemical substance) called testosterone which is largely responsible for 
the development of masculine characteristics, and they produce the male 
germ cells known as sperm cells, spermatozoa, or male gametes, by 
means of which a man is able to produce children. 

Testosterone is absorbed directly into the blood stream and is car- 
ried to all parts of the body. Its presence produces the male type of 
body build, hair distribution, vocal range, and all other characteristics 
that go to make up the maleness of an individual. 

Sperm cells are formed within tiny tubules in each testis. These 
empty into the epididymis, which leads into a slender tube, the ductus 
deferens, or vas deferens. A vas arises on either side and through 
it the spermatozoa travel slowly upward. Each vas runs upward from 
the scrotum into the lower part of the body, ending behind the bladder. 
Close by on either side, the seminal vesicles furnish the bulk of the fluid 
in which sperms are suspended. Surrounding the urethra in the region 
where the two vasa deferentia (plural of vas deferens) open into it, is a 
firm globular gland known as the prostate. This produces a secretion 
which nourishes and activates the sperm cells. Together the sperma- 
tozoa, the fluid from the seminal vesicles, and the prostate make up the 

The urethra runs through the penis, which in its relaxed position 
hangs just in front of the scrotum. At times of sexual excitement, the 
penis becomes engorged with blood and stands erect from the body. 
When ejaculation occurs sperms spurt out of the reservoirs through the 
ejaculatory ducts, through the prostate, and with the seminal and pros- 
tatic fluid are carried out of the body through the urethral opening in 
the penis. Hundreds of millions of sperm cells are present in the half- 
teaspoonful of semen that is released in the average ejaculate. 

Semen is released during sexual intercourse, masturbation, or uncon- 
sciously during sleep. The latter process is known as a nocturnal emis- 
sion, or "wet dream," and is nature's way of eliminating stored secretions 
when there has been no other more active form of expulsion. Such re- 
lease occurs first at puberty (period of establishment of sexual maturity) 
and continues to take place with some degree of regularity during inter- 
vals of sexual continence (abstinence from intentional ejaculation of 
semen) . It has been definitely established that a man may remain con- 
tinent for long periods of time, or indeed for a lifetime, without injuring 
his health or destroying his masculinity. 

1 12 





From Life and Growth by Alice V. Keliher (Appleton-Century) 


Sex Organs and How They Work in the Woman 

The sex glands in the female are about the size of those in the male, but 
they lie within the abdominal cavity, low on the right and left sides. 
They are called ovaries and, like the testes, have two important func- 
tions. They produce the hormones which control the femininity of the 
individual, the two most important of which are known as estrin (estro- 
gen) and progestin, and they also produce the female germ cells which 
are known as female gametes, ova, or eggs. 

Millions of sperm cells are formed daily during the active life of the 
male, but the female is born with all of the ova she ever possesses. 
From the time of puberty until the menopause (that period which 
marks the termination of the ability to bear children, commonly known 
as "the change of life") one ovum each month ripens and is expelled 
from the ovary. The production of hormones is related in large meas- 
ure to the ripening of the ova. As an ovum begins to mature, estrin is 
produced and is carried by the blood stream from the ovary to the 
uterus. This stimulates the growth of the inner lining of the uterus and 
produces an initial preparation for pregnancy. When the ovum is ma- 
ture it is expelled from the ovary (ovulation), and progestin is produced 
in the ovary. This hormone is also carried by the blood to the uterus 
and acts upon it to cause the final preparation for pregnancy. After the 
ovum is expelled from the ovary it enters the Fallopian tube where, if 
sperm are present, fertilization (entrance of the sperm into the egg) oc- 
curs, and subsequently the fertilized egg journeys into the uterus, where 
it becomes implanted into the already prepared wall. The secretion of 
progestin continues throughout pregnancy. If the ovum is not fertilized 
it dies within a few hours after its expulsion from the ovary. Despite 
this the uterus, under the influence of progestin, continues its prepara- 
tion for pregnancy for ten or twelve days. By the end of this time the 
production of progestin ceases. The sudden cessation in the produc- 
tion of progestin affects the uterus and causes the vessels in the lining 
to bleed. This bleeding is the result of the fact that the body has pre- 
pared for pregnancy, but no pregnancy has taken place. This flow is 
called menstruation and consists of blood, mucus, and shreds of uterine 
lining. It lasts for three to five days. Before the menstrual flow stops, 
another ovum begins to mature; estrin is again formed and another pe- 


riod for preparation for pregnancy is on its way. This is what is called 
the menstrual cycle. 

The female internal organs of reproduction other than the ovaries 
are the Fallopian tubes, uterus (womb), and vagina. The vagina forms 
the lowermost portion and is the canal into which semen is ejaculated 
from the penis during sexual intercourse. The uterus hangs above the 
vagina; it is a muscular, pear-shaped organ consisting of a lower small, 
cone-shaped or cylindrical portion known as the cervix, which extends 
into the vagina, and an upper large portion, in which the baby develops 
during pregnancy. 

Extending up and out from each side of the upper portion of the 
uterus are the Fallopian tubes. The outer funnel-shaped ends of the 
tubes lie close to the ovaries so that when an ovum is liberated it is 
drawn into the open end of one of the tubes. Spermatozoa which may 
have been deposited in the vagina move upward through the opening of 
the cervix, into the main cavity of the uterus, and on into the Fallopian 
tubes. Fertilization normally takes place in one or the other of the 

The lower end of the vagina has a puckered, crescent-shaped, pliable 
thin cuff of membrane called the hymen. In some virgins this is but a 
narrow rim of tissue; in others it forms a partial membrane which is 
easily stretched during cleansing procedures or at the time of first inter- 

CHECK YOURSELF Some aspects of the man's sex functioning correspond to that in the 

woman. Below, in section A, are lists of male and female parts. 

A. Match the corresponding words in the male and female columns. 

Male Female 

1 Sperm 1 Clitoris 

2 Testes 2 Ovum 

3 Penis 3 Estrin 

4 Testosterone 4 Ovaries 

B. Which organs are paired in the human anatomy (exist in twos)? 

1 Penis 2 Testis 3 Uterus 4 Ovary 

5 Scrotum 6 Seminal vesicle 7 Vagina 8 Fallopian tube 

* KEY pejjod |ou sjaquinu ppo 'i > 'j epiuej 

fpejiod sjaquinu 119x3 -g y ' 'z 'I epw 'V 


course; and in others its thickness necessitates dilation or surgical nick- 
ing before sexual intercourse can take place. 

The external genitalia (outer sex organs) include two hair-covered 
folds called the labia majora and two small inner folds known as labia 
minora. Between these lie the openings of the vagina and the urethra, 
and situated above the latter is a small structure called the clitoris, 
which is not unlike a rudimentary penis. This organ, located at the 
front meeting of the labia minora, is usually the seat of woman's early 
localized erotic (sex) response, and its manipulation usually leads to her 
sexual excitation. 

How a Baby Gets Started 

During intercourse semen is discharged from the penis into the upper 
end of the vagina. Many sperm pass through the opening in the cervix 
into the body of the uterus and out into the Fallopian tubes. Here 
fertilization takes place if an ovum is present. 


1 The ovum ripens in the ovary 

2 The mature ovum escapes from the ovary into the tube 

3 The ovum goes through the tube toward the uterus 

4 Sperm cells deposited in the vagina travel up into the tubes 

5 One sperm cell unites with the ovum in the tube 

6 The fertilized ovum implants in the uterus 

Immediately after the egg is fertilized it begins to divide rapidly into 
many cells, and by the time it has passed down through the tube and 
has reached its final point of attachment in the uterine lining, consid- 
erable development has taken place. Continued division and specializa- 
tion of cells soon produce the fetus (baby within the uterine cavity), 
surrounding membranes enclosing fluid within which the fetus lies, and 
the placenta, a structure to which the fetus is attached by the umbilical 
cord and through which the fetus receives all of the oxygen and food 
material necessary for its development. There is no direct connection 
between the circulation of the mother and that of the fetus. Blood of 
both enter the placenta but always remain separated by vessel walls, and 
all exchange of food takes place across these membranes. Growth is 


very rapid, and at the end of nine months the fetus has increased in 
weight 800,000,000 times! 

The baby is born through the birth canal (vagina) in a three-stage 
process known as labor. The first stage may last for fourteen hours or 
more for a first baby, and consists of muscular contractions which dilate 
the cervix sufficiently to allow the baby to pass through. The second 
stage of labor (one or more hours) is marked by intense bearing-down 
pains which expel the baby. Usually the head comes first. The final 
stage is the separation and expulsion of the afterbirth. (See the series 
of photographs and the fuller treatment of this section in Chapter Six- 
teen, "Where Babies Come From.") 

Planning a Family 

The healthy married couple may expect conception to occur a few 
months after marriage. Often the age of the mother and the readiness 
of the couple for children is such that an early pregnancy is highly de- 
sirable. Many couples, however, are better prepared for the arrival of 
children if they have had a period of several months in which to build 
a sound and satisfying marriage relationship before the onset of a preg- 

The normally fertile couple may expect one pregnancy to follow the 
previous one by intervals of a year or two more or less. Some women 
are physically able to take such frequent pregnancies without injuring 
their health or increasing the hazards for the newcomer. Many fami- 
lies, however, prefer to space the arrival of their children to provide ade- 
quately for the care of the children already in the home, the optimum 
well-being of the mother, and the readiness of the family for an addi- 
tional member. For these reasons the normal healthy couple consider 
seriously the means by which they may limit the number and plan for 
the arrival of their babies. This usually means the use of some type of 
contraceptive device or technique. Abstaining from intercourse except 
for procreation is so extremely difficult for the normal couple living to- 
gether that continence is rarely advocated. Abortions are so dangerous 
(see fuller discussion in Chapter Sixteen, "Where Babies Come From") 
that they are generally deplored as the most unfortunate means of limit- 
ing family size. 

In wider use in the voluntary prevention of pregnancy are the efforts 


1 1 7 


HE. "I like children . . . How many do you want?" 
SHE (dreamy-eyed). "Millions/ 7 

to prevent the sperm and the egg from meeting. This is called birth 
control, or more accurately, contraception. There are many procedures, 
devices, and materials, some of which the man may use, and others of 
which are the woman's responsibility. Of the methods now in use, no 
one is 100 per cent certain and all still leave something to be desired in 
simplicity, effectiveness, and personal acceptability. 

One of the oldest attempts at contraception is coitus interruptus, in 
which the man withdraws the erect penis from the vagina before the 
ejaculation. This abrupt interruption of the full sex act robs the couple 
of complete fulfillment, and is rarely acceptable to a well-mated pair. 

The rhythm method is dependent upon an accurate plotting of sup- 
posedly reliable regular periods of fertility and sterility in the monthly 
cycle of the woman. The fertile period occurs roughly midway between 
menstrual periods, leaving the days just preceding and immediately fol- 
lowing the menstrual flow as "safe" periods. Fluctuations in length of 
the cycle and variations in the time of ovulation make an accurate plot- 
ting of the occurrence of ovulation difficult. 

Doctors and birth control clinics prescribe mechanical devices and 
chemical preparations to prevent conception. These are fitted to the 
needs of the particular couple and have become widely accepted. More- 


over the religious, social, and medical needs of the couples are respected 
and taken into full consideration by expert marriage counselors in the 
premarital conference discussed later in this chapter. 

In case of the chronic illness (such as severe heart disease, active tu- 
berculosis, etc.) of the wife, and for other serious reasons where having 
children would be dangerous, permanent prevention of pregnancy may 
be accomplished by sterilization. This procedure in no way interferes 
with menstruation, or with the normal sex life of either the man or 
the woman. Tying the tubes of the woman to permanently prevent the 
meeting of sperm and egg is a major operation. But the tying of the 
vasa deferentia of the man is a simple procedure and in no way affects 
the masculinity of the husband or interferes with normal sex desires 
and intercourse. 

Venereal Diseases 

Gonorrhea is one of the venereal diseases which is contracted by sex- 
ual contact. Both syphilis and gonorrhea have serious effects on the 
human body, and where untreated are costly in their toll of health and 

Gonorrheal infection in the woman has its start in an infection of 
the urethra and cervix. If not treated skillfully it may move up from 
the vagina, through the cervix, and the uterus, into the tubes, and even 
on into the abdominal cavity, where it may cause peritonitis. The tubes 
frequently close as a result of the infection, causing sterility thereafter, 
since the sperm can no longer get through to meet the egg. 

The progress of gonorrhea in the man is somewhat similar. Starting 
at the point of contact, it may progress up through the entire genital 
tract, leaving blockages in its wake. It is the most frequent cause of 
male sterility, since it produces closure of the tubes of the epididymis. 

The early symptoms of gonorrhea are frequent, burning, and pain- 
ful urination, and a lemon-yellow discharge from the site of infection. 
Prompt, effective medical treatment is imperative. The use of sulfa or 
penicillin has greatly increased speedy and complete recovery especially 
if treatment is started at the outset of infection. 

It is of utmost importance to understand that the germ of gonor- 
rhea can easily be carried (by means of towels, hands, etc.) from in- 
fected and discharging parts to the eyes of the person having the dis- 


ease. This may result in a severe infection of the eye which, unless 
promptly and properly treated, may result in blindness. Blindness in 
the newborn has been almost entirely eliminated by the use of silver 
nitrate in the eyes of the baby at birth. This drug kills the gonococci 
(germs of gonorrhea) that may have been present in the mother and 
could infect the baby's eyes in its passage through the vagina. 

Syphilis is caused by a minute corkscrewlike organism called a spiro- 
chete ("ch" as "k"). This germ is caught from the infected person at 
the point of contact usually the genitalia and rarely the lips or mouth. 
A few days after the infection a hard sore called a chancre, teeming 
with spirochetes, appears at the point of infection. The second stage 
of skin rash and patches on the mucous membranes follows. The dis- 
ease may then become latent for months or years, after which severe 
damage to the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), to the 
heart and blood vessels, or to other vital organs may cause insanity, pa- 
ralysis, and death. Because of its many different manifestations, syphi- 
lis is frequently called "the great masquerader." It is one disease which 
cannot be self- treated. A reliable physician or clinic should be sought 
as soon as possible after infection may have taken place, and the treat- 
ment must be continued until the patient is completely cured and offi- 
cially released. 

Treatment of the syphilitic mother greatly reduces the likelihood of 
congenital syphilis in infancy, especially when treatment is begun be- 
fore the fifth month of the pregnancy. For that reason routine tests 
for syphilis (Wassermann or Kahn) are given expectant mothers so that 
if the disease is present treatment may be started while there is still time 
to protect the baby. 

The man may protect himself from infection by the use of a protec- 
tive sheath or other prophylactic materials with immediate resort to 
physician or prophylactic station following contact. No similar pro- 
phylactic measures are available to the female because of the more gen- 
eralized nature of her sexual contact. 

So-called "innocent infections" through nonsexual contact have been 
reduced through the wide use of paper drinking cups, paper towels, and 
the general acceptance of hygiene. Venereal infection of the adult 
through nonsexual contact is rare. 

Laws have been passed in most states requiring the examination of 
both men and women before marriage for presence of venereal infec- 


tion. Syphilis is diagnosed by Wassermann or Kahn blood tests, and 
gonorrhea by the microscopic examination of a smear from the cervix 
and urethra. Infected persons are allowed to marry only when treat- 
ment has reduced the disease to a noninfectious stage. 

CHECK YOURSELF You are to check the courses of action most advisable for the person 
who finds that he has been exposed to one of the venereal diseases. 

1 Wait a few months and see what develops. 

2 Ask at the nearest drug store for a cure. 

3 Find out what your best friend suggests.^ 

4 Laugh it off. It's probably nothing to worry about. 

5 Go immediately for medical attention. 

* KEY *ff s ! uojjsanb S ju,i oj JOMSUD aiqojdaooD Xjuo euj 

Sex Adjustment in Marriage 

The couple approaching marriage should understand what happens in 
coitus, how the sex reponses of man and woman differ, and how to 
acquire the skill necessary for mutual satisfaction. Though women 
respond more slowly than men, a sexually awakened woman may be 
aroused to a high and sustained pitch that is exquisitely desirable. 
Woman's response is not localized to the same degree as man's and 
usually takes more time to arouse either with tenderness or in the love 
foreplay, or both, that precedes the actual introduction of the penis into 
the vagina. Caressing, fondling, and assurance of endearing love are as 
much a part of the sex act as the more highly dramatic climax that is 
to follow, and they must be given enough time to bring both of the 
partners to a readiness for the next step. 

Orgasm in the man is noticeably marked by the ejaculation of se- 
men. The woman's climax is marked by rapid breathing and a series 
of spasmodic sensations which release her tension. Orgasm in both man 
and woman is followed soon by supreme feelings of satisfaction and 
tenderness. Occasionally a woman is capable of and desires a multiple 
orgasm. When the man is not able to accomplish another erection im- 
mediately, his manual manipulation of her clitoris and vulva may be 
satisfactory. Any activity or position in coitus is normal and acceptable 


if it brings satisfaction to the couple. The duration of the sex act varies 
from a few minutes in its basic biological component to an hour or 
more where the foreplay and afterplay are extended. The frequency of 
intercourse differs widely. During the first few weeks of marriage it 
may take place nightly. Later in the marriage it may take place one, 
two, or three times a week. Crests in the woman's desire may make for 
more frequency at certain times of the month. A great deal of varia- 
tion is normal so long as the partners themselves find the arrangement 

Simultaneous satisfaction is not always achieved in every coitus. 
Most couples find that it occurs more frequently as their skills improve 
and as they experience more and more a feeling of unity in their entire 
relationship. Conditions which are conducive to a satisfying sex experi- 
ence are often ignored in poorly planned marriages. Personal hygiene 
as well as a feeling of absolute privacy, and of quiet surroundings that 
are clean and attractive, are important for success. 

Sex Response 

Some people do not respond sexually to their lovers. The inability to 
have an erection on the part of the man is called impotence, and is likely 
to be humiliating and difficult for both the man and his wife. This in- 
ability to perform the sex act in a desirable manner results usually from 
deep-seated psychological fears and feelings of guilt that yield best to 
psychiatric attention rather than to any localized or purely physical treat- 
ment. Quacks have exploited men for years with promises of quick re- 
turn of full sex functioning. 

Lack of sex response in the woman is even more frequent and is the 
cause of much distress in married living. Frigidity in the woman may 
be expressed in absence of sensation, with an inability to experience or- 
gasm or to get release in intercourse, or in an active dislike of the whole 
experience, with accompanying pain, nervousness, and feelings of re- 
vulsion. This condition frequently results from one of the following 
causes: i. inadequate early sex education, 2. a feeling that sex is shame- 
ful, 3. resentment at being a woman, 4. hostility toward the husband, or 
5. fear of being hurt or of becoming pregnant. Any of these is sufficient 
to make the woman unable to enter eagerly into the relationship. Tem- 
porary withholding of sex relationships because of anger is not infre- 


quent even among fairly well-adjusted women, and is a mild manifesta- 
tion of chronic frigidity. 

Few women enter marriage sexually awakened and ready for com- 
plete response in the sex act. Many American girls are brought up to 
be "nice/' to repulse the advances of men, and to refrain from any 
genital stimulation. Marriage demands a completely different pattern 
of behavior, and it is extremely difficult to remake oneself overnight. 
To overcome the conditioning of a lifetime and replace it by the atti- 
tude of mature marital cooperation takes time. An understanding hus- 
band and/or professional help before an unsatisfactory pattern becomes 
too well established prove helpful in correcting this condition in many 

Physicians are often able to speed up the woman's response by pre- 
paring her more fully for marriage, teaching her to dilate the hymen, 
and by freeing the clitoris from the folds that may cover it. The hus- 
band who makes full use of the excitability of the erogenous zones (sex- 
ually excitable areas), such as the breasts, thighs, vulva, and especially 
the clitoris, in fondling that is gentle and directed toward the arousal 
of his spouse often finds that her response grows with his increasing 
skill in kindling it. Loving understanding, patience, and practice are 
all that are usually needed to make for sexual compatibility of two nor- 
mal people. The so-called sexual incompatibility of the divorce courts 
is rarely a physical problem, but rather one which has emerged through 
the lack of knowledges, skills, and appreciations necessary to build mu- 
tual compatibility. Sex satisfaction or dissatisfaction reflects the whole 
husband-wife relationship. 

The Premarital Examination 

The physical examination of couples about to marry has been a boon to 
many couples in detecting and clearing up all kinds of difficulties and in 
offering an opportunity to ask questions and obtain the information 
necessary to inaugurate a successful marriage. This is not to be confused 
with premarriage counseling in which the many personality, family, eco- 
nomic, religious, and legal factors are explored (see pp. 103-104). 

What may be expected in the premarital examination depends upon 
both the physician and the couple. Here are some of the things a well- 
trained doctor and an alert couple keep in mind to be included. 



1 Medical history including the previous sex history of both the man and 
the woman, possible hereditary problems in either line, and the men- 
strual history of the woman. 

2 Clarification of any item or questions one or both members of the couple 
bring in, along with any that arise during the consultation. Selected 
books may be recommended as helpful. 

3 Brief review of the anatomy and physiology of both male and female 
genital systems in the human (with charts or films if desired). 

4 General physical examination including blood and urine studies, heart, 
lung, and pelvic conditions, and search for any possible pathologies in 
both the man and the woman. 

5 Pelvic examination of the woman with especial attention to the condi- 
tion of the vaginal orifice and the adequacy of the vagina for sexual inter- 

6 Possible instruction in a program of hymen dilation, where indicated and 
compatible with the attitudes of the couple. 

7 Examination of the clitoris, and plan for freeing the clitoris as indicated. 

8 Laboratory study of cultures from vagina and cervix with especial con- 
cern for the presence of gonorrheal infection, with immediate program of 
treatment if tests are positive. 

9 Examination of the male genitalia with laboratory tests and a program of 
treatment for possible infection. (Sperm count and motility may be in- 
cluded if desired.) 

10 Blood tests for the detection of syphilis in both individuals. Positive 
findings are followed at once by adequate treatment. No evidence of the 
disease is the clean bill of health required in most states before the li- 
cense is issued. 

n Discussion of plans for contraception, as requested, with particular refer- 
ence to the initial period of the marriage, and the religious factors that 
may be pertinent: a) plan for plotting the "safe period" if rhythm 
method is to be used, or b) fitting a diaphragm if religious and personal 
factors allow it. 

12 Specific advice on vaginal lubricants and coital procedures as requested 
and indicated. 

Obviously such a program of premarital consultation cannot be car- 
ried out effectively in one brief office call. It is usually wise for the 
couple to go for their first premarital consultation as soon as the definite 
date has been set for the wedding (see Chapter Nine, "Wedding 


Plans"). At that time, the general exploration of common factors in- 
cluded in items one through three above may be covered, and appoint- 
ments made for more detailed physical examinations of both man and 
woman at separate times (and possibly by different physicians). It is 
important that the pelvic examination of the female be done some time 
before the marriage where possible so that a program of dilation of the 
hymen and correction of any remediable conditions be effected well be- 
fore the actual marriage date. It is not uncommon for the girl to take 
her mother or some close woman friend with her for this first pelvic 
examination, although it is not essential to do so. The blood tests re- 
quired in most states proving the members of the pair to be free from 
communicable syphilis must be taken within the time limit set in the 
state of residence, usually within the fortnight preceding the marriage. 
Premarital counseling includes not only the physical examination 
discussed here, but also the exploration of the personality, social, cul- 
tural, family, economic, and religious factors that are important for the 
building of a marriage (see Chapter Five, "The Meaning of an Engage- 

The Fact Is ... 

The establishment of a satisfying sexual adjustment is often not accom- 
plished immediately. It may take the couple many weeks or months to 
mutually adjust sexually. 1 The week-end furlough honeymoon of war- 
time with its haste and sense of urgency is hardly conducive to the es- 
tablishment of a mutually satisfying relationship. This is especially true 
if the bride is not fully ready for the consummation of the marriage. 
Such factors as a tough and resistant hymen, or the slight spasm of the 
muscles of the opening of the vagina, may be painful and may add to 
the fear and resistance of the bride. 

Failure to synchronize the response of man and woman is another 
frequent cause of dissatisfaction in intercourse early in marriage that 
may be lessened by adequate marriage preparation. As the man gains 
in experience with his bride he is able to slow down his response, and 
by gentle, skillful caresses to arouse his wife to the place where both 
reach the climax at approximately the same time, with mutually shared 

1 Judson T. Landis, "Adjustments after Marriage," Marriage and Family Liv- 
ing, IX, May 1947, pp. 32-34. 


exhilaration and release which is important to both for complete ful- 

Happiness in marriage is dependent not alone on perfecting the 
physical sex act to the point of mutual fulfillment. As studies and 
clinical evidence have richly indicated, it lies more within the person- 
ality adjustment of each member of the couple and in their larger rela- 
tionships as two whole persons than in any physical tricks or techniques. 
True married living revolves around such interchange as is found in 
planning for the children, spending the family money, making plans for 
vacations and holidays, rejoicing over personal advances, and comfort- 
ing one another in times of illness or disappointment. It is these day- 
by-day experiences in common that set the stage for the fullness of sex- 
ual response which, for most couples, symbolizes their unity and is far 
more satisfying than the purely physical release involved. 

Selected Readings 

BECKER, HOWARD, AND HILL, REUBEN, EDS., Family, Marriage, and Parent- 
hood (Boston: Heath, 1948), Chap. 10. 
BROWN, FRED, AND KEMPTON, RUDOLF, Sex Questions and Answers (New 

York: McGraw-Hill, 1950). 
BUTTERFIELD, OLIVER, Marriage and Sexual Harmony (New York: Emerson 

Books, 1946). 

CHESSER, EUSTACE, Love without Fear (New York: Signet Books, 1949). 
CLARK, LEMON, Sex and You (New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1949). 
DUVALL, EVELYN, Facts of Life and Love (New York: Association Press, 


ELLIS, ALBERT, The Folklore of Sex (New York: Boni, 1951). 
FISHBEIN, MORRIS, AND BURGESS, ERNEST, EDS., Successful Marriage (Garden 

City: Doubleday, 1947), Part I, chaps. 5, 6; Part II, chaps. 1-3, 5. 

in Marriage (New York: Emerson Books, 1942). 
HIMES, NORMAN, Your Marriage: A Guide to Happiness (New York: Rine- 

hart, 1940). 
KLING, SAMUEL, AND KLiNG, ESTHER, EDS., The Marriage Reader (New York: 

Vanguard, 1947), Part Seven. 
LANDIS, JUDSON, AND LANDis, MARY, Building a Successful Marriage (New 

York: Prentice-Hall, 1948), Chap. 11. 

MAGOUN, F. ALEXANDER, Love and Marriage (New York: Harper, 1948), 
Chap. 9. 

ROCK, JOHN, AND LOTH, DAVID, Voluntary Parenthood (New York: Random 
House, 1949). 


STOKES, WALTER, Modern Pattern for Marriage (New York: Rinehart, 1948), 

chaps. 3-6. 
STONE, HANNAH, AND STONE, ABRAHAM, A Marriage Manual (New York: 

Simon & Schuster, 1952, revised). 
VAN DE VELDE, T. H., Ideal Marriage: Its Physiology and Technique (New 

York: Covici Friede, 1937). 

Technical References 

DICKINSON, ROBERT, Atlas of Human Sex Anatomy (New York: Williams 
and Wilkins, 1949). 

FORD, CLELLAN, AND BEACH, FRANK, Patterns of Sexual Behavior (New York: 
Harper, 1951). 

in the Human Male (Philadelphia: Saunders, 1948). 

LANDIS, CARNEY, AND OTHERS, Sex in Development (New York: Paul Hoeber, 

MENNINGER, WILLIAM, "Sexual Aspects of Marriage," in Program Notes 
Third Annual Scientific Assembly, American Academy of General Prac- 
tice, 406 West 34th St., Kansas City, Mo. (T. E. Rardin, M.D., ed., 
1951), pp. 9-13. 

POTTER, EDITH, Fundamentals of Human Reproduction (New York: 
McGraw-Hill, 1948). 


"Everything that's fun is either illegal, immoral, or fattening!" 


Are your love affairs anyone's business but your own? 

What is conscience? 

Why are there so many rules about sex relations? 
Can you have fun if you are good? 

<0^/OROTHY is 


a medical student in his second year of medicine. They have been en- 
gaged for four months, and Dorothy wants to get married right away. 
She claims she will be no financial liability to Bill because her job at 
the hospital will continue whether she is married or not. The major 
obstacle in the way is the adamant objection of Bill's parents. They 
are convinced that Dorothy and Bill are too young and have refused 
flatly to continue any further support to Bill in his medical school edu- 
cation if he marries now. 

Bill somehow can't see the need for marriage right now, not for what 
they want anyway. His arguments have become so plausible that he is 
beginning to believe in them himself there are other medical students 
in the same boat, and they have managed to wink at the sex codes with- 
out being struck down. Dorothy and Bill are coming to a crossroads 
for which they are unprepared. 

Many of Dorothy's friends in their heated discussions claim that the 
world has changed and that people have to change to fit the new life. 
When your friends, people who should know, people who are up to date 
in their thinking, talk that way it makes you wonder. One of the most 
telling arguments is that no one would know. . In a big city you can 
gain anonymity in a matter of five minutes' walk from your home, and 
your behavior is strictly a private affair. 


Dorothy has been taught all her life that sex intercourse is best saved 
for marriage, because it is so much more enjoyable then. Her quandary 
is very real, and she resolves to write her brother who is in graduate 
school. He has always listened to her without blame whenever she has 
done anything shocking. He will give her problem an unbiased ap- 
praisal even though he is her brother. She poses four provocative ques- 
tions for him to answer: 

1 People in other countries aren't so strict; why should I be? 

2 I've crossed the line and recrossed it in my thoughts; why should it be any 
worse to do it with my person? 

3 It's my life, and if I choose to be unhappy, isn't that my own business? 

4 How can you tell anything's good or bad without trying it? 

We quote with permission excerpts from the brother's response: 

You know, my dear, that you've hit upon a very important and compli- 
cated problem there, a problem on which I certainly do not feel myself com- 
petent to make any definite pronouncements, but one which must be de- 
cided eventually by yourself, in the solitude and perhaps loneliness of your 
own mind. . . . 

I think that probably the most important point against any such course 
of action as you apparently contemplate is one which you yourself men- 
tioned when you wrote that it's probably fear of having to live with yourself 
afterward that's holding you back. I can't stress too much how important 
that is. Whatever we might like to see our society become, the fact remains 
that as it is today, it makes no provision for sex relationships outside of mar- 
riage. ''Well," you'll probably say, "that's an old-fashioned idea, and to 
heck with it!" That's all very well, but when you kick that overboard, you 
also dismiss many other things which you very likely can't get along very 
well without. You at one stroke alienate yourself from the larger group, 
from your past training, from your ideals and values as they used to be, from 
your parents, and often from your friends. You say that the line is so slen- 
der that you wonder that you haven't crossed and recrossed it many times, 
but you miss the important point, that that is one line which crossed can 
never be recrossed. 

It's true that your friends may never know, that your parents may con- 
tinue in blissful ignorance, that the group may never discover you; but the 
truth of the matter is that it's really impossible to separate yourself from the 
group, because from one standpoint you are the group, and the group is you. 
All the past training that you've had all your life has been dictated in large 
measure by the standards of the group; your mind to a large extent contains, 
not things you have thought up by yourself, but things that the group has 


thought up for you, and made part of your very being. On the other hand, 
it is you and the many others like you that uphold and continue the tradi- 
tions of the society and make social life possible. However, just because you 
are, in a sense, society, you cannot feel free to break loose from it, for you 
are not all of society. . . . What I mean here is that it's not necessary for 
your actions to be made public in order for them to be made unpleasant. 
It's the rare person (if, indeed, there can ever be such a person) who is able 
to tear himself away from social standards so entirely that he is able to avoid 
punishing himself when he breaks a social rule. 

That is what would happen to you. With reasonable care you would 
probably not be found out anyhow, not for some time. By the exercise of 
reasonable precautions, you would probably not become pregnant though 
even the best contraceptives are far from being perfect. But you would 
find yourself out, and you would find that you were worrying quite a bit 
about becoming pregnant, if not this time, then the next. The main thing, 
however, is that you yourself would know what you were doing, and would 
feel very guilty about the whole thing. You would punish yourself with the 
fear of discovery, and with the realization that, in our society, you were do- 
ing something that, rightly or wrongly, is considered wrong. You might not 
analyze the situation in this manner, but you would have a vague, ever pres- 
ent, gnawing feeling of guilt, and you would most certainly not be happy. 

There are two things you might answer to this. One is, Why should this 
be so, when in other societies such premarital relations are permitted? An- 
other is that after all it's your life, and if you choose to be unhappy for 
awhile, well, nobody's the loser but yourself. 

The first is the fallacy of moral relativism, and it's really another way of 
putting what I've been saying all along. It's all right to do such things in 
other societies because they're organized along those lines. No social sanc- 
tions are attached to such behavior; provision is often made for any children 
which may result, and the whole matter is aboveboard and recognized. 
Moreover, even in such a sexual paradise as the Marquesas Islands, the peo- 
ple have found it necessary to make promiscuity a condition of a compen- 
sating factor the absence of romance. In these islands, where almost com- 
plete freedom is the rule, the children are brought up from the cradle with 
the idea that to form permanent and very personal attachments is wrong. 
These people have found it necessary to frown on exclusiveness and jealousy 
as much as we frown on philandering. It's almost like action and reaction, 
force and distance, in physics. It's a seesaw. If you get one thing, you have 
to sacrifice something else. 

The second idea, that you're not hurting anybody but yourself, is just 
not so. It's true that you're over eighteen, and that therefore, by our some- 
what peculiar laws, your body is your own to bestow on whom you wish, but 
the assumption behind this custom is that by the age of eighteen the social 
patterns are so deeply ingrained in your mind that you will act in accord 
with society's expectations. And if you try to fool society by not acting as it 


expects, the repercussions will affect not only you, but all those about you, 
and not only the you of the present, but quite possibly the you of the future. 
For after all, if you begin to worry and to feel guilty your family will notice 
it, and they will worry. They will ask embarrassing questions which you will 
be unable to answer, so you will evade them or else lie, and the evasion will 
make you worry more, and the lie will make you feel even more guilty. And 
not only your family, but your friends will notice your nervousness and your 
short temper and your little jumps and starts at inconsequential things, and 
they will wonder about you and worry also, and everything they do or say 
will make you wonder whether maybe they haven't found out, so you will 
begin to avoid them, and become even more unhappy, as they will too. 

Moreover, an unpleasant experience of this sort will leave its psychologi- 
cal mark on you for the rest of your life. The sex act is one of the most 
personal and intimate acts which a man and woman can share together, and 
if it is done in secret and in haste, it is very likely, for that very reason, to be 
unpleasant, to lack its full meaning, and to make the whole business of sex 
a source of fear and disgust. This sort of attitude could very easily carry 
over into your married life and make it, too, unpleasant and repugnant, and 
prevent you from truly enjoying what you have every right to expect. . . . 
There are some things in life that it's too dangerous to try, just for the sake 
of experience, and sex intercourse before marriage is one of them. 

Don't get me wrong, dear, I realize that sex is fun up to a point but 
I feel that when it comes to intercourse, the possible consequences are too 
dangerous to be played with in a lighthearted manner. 

There Are No Immoral Societies 

One of the most frequently heard justifications for premarital sex activ- 
ity today by the set who describe themselves as "emancipated" is that 
our customs are unduly restrictive, and that since other people are not 
so strict there is no good reason for our own standards of chastity. Sto- 
ries of the bliss of the South Sea Islanders still sell well, and the movies 
continue to exploit the selfsame fiction. The popularity of the movies 
of the South Seas is probably derived from the life of irresponsibility and 
of minimum regulation which they picture, a dream world which corre- 
sponds in part with the average man's inner fantasies. These pictures 
are highly inaccurate portrayals of life among the primitives, whose 
regulations and taboos often outnumber our own. 

In every society sex conduct is regulated as part of the total system 
of family behavior. None have yet been studied in which absolute 
promiscuity is encouraged and supported by the moral codes. All hu- 


man groups have regularized the relationships between men and women 
and have placed some limits to the sex conduct of their members. 

Those who talk about the sexual paradise of the primitives are usu- 
ally persons with little or no knowledge of the total culture in question. 
Unless one has had the actual experience of living in another society 
with the serious intention of learning its intricacies, it is difficult to ap- 
preciate the extent to which the sex mores are woven into the warp and 
woof of the culture. The particular ideals of what constitutes correct 
sex behavior are part of a design for living within a particular society. 1 

The relative rigidity and laxity of control with respect to premarital 
sex conduct make sense in terms of the history of the group and the way 
other aspects of life are regulated. Where extramarital relations are 
condoned there is provision for the offspring of these unions, an ar- 
rangement we don't have in our society. The unmarried mother has 
status, and her child is not discriminated against because of his moth- 
er's extramarital conduct. 

What Does It Mean to Go Primitive? 

Most of us do not have the alternative of spending the rest of our lives 
among peoples known as primitives. We can, however, utilize the find- 
ings of anthropologists to place our own society in the mosaic made by 
all societies. Ours is a restrictive society with regard to sex conduct, but 
we are by no means the only society to place bans on promiscuous sex 
expression. In a recent sampling of the several hundred societies which 
dot the world, literate and nonliterate, ancient and modern, George 
Murdock tabulated from the files of the Cross-Cultural Index of Yale 
University one expression of restrictiveness and permissiveness; namely, 
the normative patterns regarding premarital relations. He reports that 
nonincestuous premarital relations are fully permitted in 50 per cent of 
the societies, conditionally approved in 20 per cent, and forbidden in 
about 30 per cent. Many of the most populous societies fall in the 
"forbidding" category. 2 

There are actually many societies which are stricter than our own 

1 Scudder Mekeel, "Preliterate Family Patterns," in Howard Becker and Reu- 
ben Hill, eds., Marriage and the Family (Boston: Heath, 1942), p. 55. 

2 George P. Murdock, Social Structure (New York: Macmillan, 1949), p. 265. 


with regard to sex conduct. Relatively speaking, present-day Americans 
enjoy considerable sex freedom. Viewing our position from the per- 
spective given by history, we see that there have been societies anteced- 
ent to our own which were much more restrictive, i.e., Puritan New 
England or, more recently, the Victorian era in England and in America. 

How can we account for the apparent permissiveness among some so- 
cieties? What appears to be illicit behavior from our standpoint is re- 
garded as perfectly correct conduct by the members of these societies. 
Nevertheless there are regulations which control premarital relations. 
There are rules of etiquette governing the proper times and places, and 
means of negotiation. But the purpose of these institutionalized rules 
governing courtship is not to restrict sexual access so much as to regu- 
larize it. Take, for example, the Marquesas Islands, which some observ- 
ers have termed the sexual paradise of the South Seas. On these en- 
chanting isles it has been necessary, in order to prevent open strife 
among promiscuous males, to repress all feelings of tenderness and overt 
jealousy. Otherwise the society would break up from the violence of 
competition and conflict for women. From birth, the Marquesan child 
is never once allowed to experience feelings of tenderness, of belonging 
to someone who is dear to him. Children are weaned as early as pos- 
sible. Food is thrust into their mouths without the loving and fondling 
that is characteristic in our society. Children are never picked up and 
kissed, and as a result, when they mature no tenderness seems to be ex- 
pected or given in adult love relations. In such a society there is little 
manifestation of jealousy even in the face of frequent sharing of partners. 
The price of institutionalized premarital relationships in the Marquesas 
Islands is the absence of romance, exclusiveness, and the privilege of 
jealously protecting one's beloved from alien seducers. 

In America we live in a restrictive culture which maximizes compan- 
ionship of the sexes socially and intellectually but restricts sexual inti- 
macies to married couples. Jealousy and strife are minimized by insist- 
ing upon continence before marriage and marital fidelity to one partner 
after marriage. This enables us to maintain tenderness as an integral 
part of our love life and makes possible possessiveness among lovers. It 
is important to us in America to have and to hold, exclusively, some 
one person. Our heights of romantic ardor are built out of the obstacles 
placed in our way by the restrictions of the sex codes. We have been 
reared to expect tenderness and romance in our love life and are unpre- 


pared for sex relations without genuine intimacy. Over the years a 
moral code meeting these specifications has been formulated and has 
proved relatively workable. That code is monogamous marriage one 
man for one woman at a time. 

How Conscience Develops 

Conscience develops out of childhood learnings from parents, playmates, 
and other teachers. Because these builders of conscience were limited 
to our society in their own childhood, we too are taught only the right 
ways of this same society. Any person with any bringing up at all has 
been so effectively taught the characteristic do's and don't's of his group 
that he is unable to experiment with any complacency with the customs 
of another society. To do so would violate his own conscience. Let's 
see why. 

Conscience is built during the most impressionable years. The teach- 
ings which make up conscience are imposed upon the child when he is 
powerless and helpless to object, at a stage in his development when he 
is most plastic and receptive and before he can verbalize his thoughts 
into rational form. Conscience is rooted into the nonverbal, feeling 
layers of personality. The result is that he accepts the doctrines with- 
out argument, and they remain with him into adulthood to guide him 
when he deviates from the paths described as desirable in childhood. 
He learns that he can't argue with his conscience. He has strong feel- 
ings that some things ought to be done and strong feelings that some 
things ought not to be done, and that's all there is to it. 

Why should the child become set so soon about moral questions? 
In the first place, parents react more strongly about moral than secular 
questions because they too have consciences with which they can't 
argue. Parents are after all children older grown, and they communi- 
cate their negative feelings to their own offspring whenever the little 
rascals violate one of the social conventions. In the second place, there 
is more likelihood that punishment and unpleasantness will accompany 
violation of the moral codes. The child comes to recognize that the all- 
wise parents feel especially negative about moral indiscretions. Finally, 
the child may connect the moral learnings with the satisfaction of his 
basic needs of hunger, thirst, affection, and security. Powerless as he is, 
he must accept what he hears, or so he imagines, lest he risk the loss of 


these vital satisfactions. This threat is enough to bring the most recal- 
citrant into line. 

The genius of the conscience is that, once it is established in a child, 
the immediate presence of the parent is no longer necessary to control 
him. Inhibitions are built up to such an extent that uneasiness may 
accompany violation of parental teachings, even if the act is not de- 
tected. Knowledge that the act is condemned and that the individual 
may be brought to task at some time is sufficient to support the ideal of 
correct conduct. 

It is in the many informal family situations that we see the process 
of conscience formation most clearly at work. Drop in on any family 
meal for a picture of moral training in action. Questions are asked, an- 
swered, or evaded in turn. Significant for all are the topics meticulously 
avoided, as well as those assiduously discussed. Bossard's study of fam- 
ily table talk shows the effectiveness of the family in moral instruction: 

Helen, aged twelve, tells of a neighbor's child, that proverbial and peren- 
nial scapegoat. Father, who is envious of the neighboring father's business 
success, expresses himself freely concerning the conduct of his daughter. 
Mother, who dislikes the neighboring mother, is equally heated. Helen, 
without understanding the motives involved, is quite impressed. The neigh- 
boring girl's conduct was reprehensible. . . . 

. . . many of the lessons of the family meal ... are unplanned and 
spontaneous. "Katie kissed John," pipes up the well-known little brother, 
and in the wake of his disclosure may follow either an eloquent silence, or a 
colorful discussion concerning kissing, John's intentions, John's job, Katie's 
prospects, and mother's attitude toward early marriages. These are ... 
common grist in the family round-the-table mill, as it grinds, now slowly, 
now rapidly, but always exceedingly fine. 8 

, The conscience is built largely out of these experiences in informal 
living. The family is the first society in which the child is taught to 
live, and it in turn fulfills the obligation of inducting him into the larger 
group. The development of conscience is the family's device for en- 
suring the child's preparation for full-fledged participation in society. 

As the child enters adolescence, the peer culture becomes more and 
more important in modifying conscience and determining approved be- 
havior. The do's and don'ts of childhood are devalued as "corny" and 
good enough for children but unsuitable for grown-up young people. 

8 James H. S. Bossard, "Family Table Talk An Area for Sociological Study," 
American Sociological Review (June, 1943), p. 299. 


Keeping clean, paying attention to manners, and watching language are 
not as important to companions as to parents. Telling dirty jokes and 
painting washroom pictures are ways of defying elders. The most strik- 
ing characteristic of this peer culture in adolescence is the approval given 
to the members who take risks, who flout conventions, who defy par- 
ents and teachers and other authorities. The conscience of the child 
wrestles with the prodding of the peers who see in the flouting of con- 
science evidence of their new-found independence. 

In most cases the conscience wins the battle, because the peer cul- 
ture of the next older set is more approving of moral behavior. The 
members of that set have found that they don't necessarily have to 
flout the conventions to be accepted as adults. On the contrary, they 
perceive that one of the differences which distinguish them from ado- 
lescents is their more ready acceptance of the societal codes. With 
some pride this older set, now readying itself for marriage, incorporates 
some of the values and vested interests of the larger adult culture. 
Thereafter the sets in which the maturing person travels become in- 
creasingly conservative, and the members support and pass on the moral 
codes to others as their parents have before them. 

How Conscience Works 

How does conscience work and how can you tell whether yours is well 
developed? Take the case of Jim R. who was reared in a good family in 
the Middle West. He has been produced in a certain mold and is not 
entirely free, therefore, to make his own choice with regard to sex con- 
duct. One evening on a dare he violated the code of decency by ap- 
pearing at a formal dancing party clad only in swimming trunks and 
dress shoes. As he approached the dance floor from his car he sensed 
the pounding of his pulses, the increased heartbeat, and the tingling of 
his skin. Physiologically his condition was one of greatly increased cir- 
culation. Psychologically he displayed agitation, mortification, and self- 
consciousness as the full import of his actions flashed before him. He 
spent very little time on the dance floor, because he sensed that every- 
one was looking his way; and he was so hot and uncomfortable that he 
thought he would suffocate. He finally fled from the place to escape 
what proved to be an intolerable situation. Conscience supported by 
societal disapproval proved his undoing. 


In many ways Jim's attitudes toward what is right and wrong with 
regard to marriage are also so deeply ingrained by the time he gets to 
the marrying age that he cannot violate them without painful emo- 
tional reactions. However strongly he may feel intellectually about a 
"freer" sex life, he can do little about this conscience of his. He is un- 
able to go safely far beyond his emotional reactions of guilt, which are 
visible in his bodily manifestations in the form of blushing, headaches, 
nervousness, sleeplessness, indigestion, nausea, and similar expressions 
of malaise. Parents, teachers, ministers, and now his associates have 
done their work so well that Jim cannot violate their teachings even in 
their absence. The codes have now become a part of his thinking, and 
very shortly he will be a party to indoctrinating his own children with 
similar convictions as he takes on the responsibilities of parent and 

Of such stuff is conscience made. You may start with an untamed, 
undomesticated potential rebel at birth, but if he lives long enough and 
the conditioning is effective enough he will turn out to be a conserva- 
tive conformist like Jim R. To Jim, morality will increasingly make 
sense, because it is the only comfortable alternative open to him. 

Ethical Judgment 

Our discussion so far tends to give us a wholesome respect for the moral 
codes of our society and for the vehicle which carries those codes in us, 
namely, conscience. Is it sufficient to have a good working knowledge 
of the moral codes and a well-developed conscience? Are these suffi- 
cient bases for conduct? The teaching of ethics would be greatly sim- 
plified if these questions could be answered in the affirmative. 

Conscience works well when faced with familiar problems, but 
given new and complex situations it is frequently ineffective in provid- 
ing the answers. And in a rapidly changing society the average individ- 
ual is constantly meeting new situations for which the conscience pro- 
vides no ready-made solutions. Moreover, reference to the moral codes 
is useless, because unique cases are not covered there. In addition to a 
working knowledge of the moral codes and a well-developed conscience, 
then, ethical judgment is needed, the ability to size up the new situa- 
tion and perceive which of the available alternatives is least bad. This 


decision needs to be based on the recognition of the consequences 
which would follow the proposed behaviors. The individual employs 
reflection to follow out in his mind the results of each course of action. 
He attempts to answer the question, Which of the proposed courses of 
action will least hurt the parties concerned? 

The appeal merely to the conscience is not likely to be permanently 
satisfactory, therefore, because the conscience is based more on child- 
hood indoctrinations than on adult experiences. Emotionally trained 
to approve some actions and to disapprove others, we are unable to 
learn through conscience why the action is ethical and right. The de- 
sire to do the right thing is no guarantee of understanding about what 
is right. 4 

Moreover, life in shifting, changing America is so complex that we 
are frequently faced with the choice of alternatives no single one of 
which is altogether satisfactory from the standpoint of conscience. Ethi- 
cal judgment must be added to conscience to select the alternative ac- 
tion which is least bad and most ethical. For example, is it right to 
steal a revolver from a friend who would otherwise commit suicide 
with it? 

Until recently young people in our society needed only conscience 
to tell them what was correct behavior, at least in the area of sex rela- 
tions. Today many young people are entering adulthood with the ne- 
cessity of answering for themselves whether they will remain continent 
until marriage or include sexual experimentation in their premarital 
learnings. No longer can one's guide be conscience alone. Added to it 
must go insight into the consequences of premarital experimentation, 
into its effects upon personality and on the future of the relationship. 
The responsibility for these decisions is too great to place on young peo- 
ple until they are thoroughly informed. Young people acquire insight 
by learning the consequences of deviant behavior, the results of promis- 
cuous relations, and the need for permanency to achieve a satisfying 
relation. Happily, one of the helpful outcomes of the relaxation of the 
sex mores has been the lifting of the ban on discussion of sex and sex 
problems. Frank discussion of moral problems and enrollment in mar- 
riage education courses can provide young people with a picture of the 

* Harold H. Titus, Ethics for Today (New York: American Book Company, 
1936), pp. 18-20. 


consequences of behavior which, on the rational level, can supplement 
the conscience, which is on the emotional level, as an important guide 
to conduct. 

A famous physician, wise in the ways of sexually disturbed people, 
recently pointed out the principles of sex morality in a question-answer 
session with several hundred students in a marriage class. He had been 
asked the question: "Is it all right to pet if you think you are in love?" 
His answer appeared directed toward the boys of the class: "I would say 
you should be able to answer the following questions: Is it genuine, 
this affection? Is it fair to the girl in the long run? Are you hurting 
yourselves emotionally by building up appetites you can satisfy only in 
marriage? I find that patients who come to me for help are dispropor- 
tionately drawn from individuals who were promiscuous before mar- 
riage. An act is right if it makes for the development of personality 
and human welfare; an act is wrong if it leads to the destruction of hu- 
man personality. Sex is powerful, but neutral, neither good nor bad; 
how it is used makes it right or wrong. With this start I feel you should 
be able to construct the type of situations in which petting would be all 
right and the situations in which it would be wrong/' 

Emancipation: Freedom to Grow 

One of the great values of our society is freedom, but all too frequently 
it has been construed as freedom from tyranny, from regulation, from 
restrictive covenants, rather than freedom to do creative work, to achieve 
new goals. Are the moral codes too restrictive? Do they "keep love in 

Our thesis is that self-realization and freedom to grow lie in the di- 
rection of moral living, that the person in our society who enjoys the 
greatest freedom is one who knows the demands of the social order and 
uses them to free himself for creative activity. 

First, it is an accepted fact that habit is the great conservator of hu- 
man energy. Deviation from the norms of morality, for example, is a 
departure from routine and exposes the person to increasing nervous 
strain: he has new decisions to make and an uncharted course. Con- 
science, moreover, acts as a guide to warn whether such and such be- 
havior is acceptable or reprehensible in the eyes of other people. It is 
not designed to shackle but to guide behavior, to enable a person to 


maintain his status, his reputation, and his friends. To lack conscience 
or to ignore it almost inevitably results in loss of freedom, for officers of 
the law, or lesser authorities fully as powerful, such as employers, teach- 
ers, or neighbors, enforce the regulations of our social order. Whether 
it is right or wrong so to restrict an individual's behavior is not an idle 
question. In order to preserve a measure of social harmony, society does 
restrict him. 5 

Freedom for the individual comes through conformity to the traffic 
rules of life's highway. Violation of these rules does not establish the 
fact that our rebel is free: he just loses his driver's license through his 
indiscretion and has to walk thereafter. Violation of the sex taboos in- 
creases the restrictions on his freedom. Henceforth he will be even 
more limited in the girls he may date, and he may eventually lose his 
position in the rating scale which enables him to rate a desirable mar- 
riage partner. 

We are all on probation, so to speak: if we violate the rules which 
society has established to ensure social harmony, we risk losing the privi- 
leges of the free run of society. We win our freedom to love and work 
and play by demonstrating our ability to operate "within the grooves" 
without a guardian to keep us in line. 

Responsive Integrity 

Another aspect of freedom is the winning of unqualified acceptance of 
other persons. Once an individual recognizes within himself the ca- 
pacity to work with others as persons rather than as potential sex ob- 
jects, he frees himself for much wider and more varied relationships with 
members of the opposite sex. He sees the possibilities in exploring per- 
sonality, in sharing points of view and collaborating in creative work, all 
of which possibilities are closed to the person hampered by the feeling 
that every friend must be fondled and caressed to be enjoyed. 

The "wolf" (male or female) whose aims are sex-directed, in contact 
with any member of the other sex, is often not so much sex-starved as 
he is in need of ego-bolstering. The girl who leads a man on to prove 
to herself that she can, is often so insecure as a woman that she must 
constantly prove to herself as well as to others that she is desirable. The 

5 We have already shown that the sex codes of premarital continence in our so- 
ciety serve to minimize jealousy and strife, pp. 133-134. 


heart-hunter usually collects conquests because he or she needs evidence 
of personal power. When satisfactions outside of sex become possible, 
a girl does not need to measure her success by whether she got ''him" to 
kiss her or not; the man no longer requires physical submission as proof 
of his acceptance. 

More fortunate are those persons who are free to know and enjoy 
and to love a wide variety of fine people of both sexes in a variety of 
situations, for theirs is the love that frees them for further growth of 
personality. As such emotional growth takes place, mate love is en- 
hanced rather than challenged, since the sex channeling of affection re- 
mains exclusive while the emotional responses grow richly inclusive. 
Such persons have what is called responsive integrity. 

Responsive integrity is the ability to respond to another person hon- 
estly and as a whole person without having to block off or deny basic 
aspects of the self. If we are honest we must admit that we find all 
sorts of people attractive and lovable. The desire to attract and be at- 
tracted to others does not cease with marriage. Conscience tells us that 
we belong exclusively to one mate; so the tendency to feel guilt, shame, 
and a denial of our real feelings dams up the out-going responses. As 
long as this repression is successful we cannot allow ourselves to respond 
honestly to others. If, on the other hand, the emotional currents become 
so strong that they overflow the limits set by the conscience, they may 
set up a whole sequence of unacceptable behavior. Neither alternative 
is wholesome, since both prevent us from responding as a whole; either 
we must deny our feelings of affection, or we must break with our own 
ideals of right and wrong. Responsive integrity enters in when we 
accept our feelings for others, when we learn how to channel them in 
ways that are acceptable, and to enjoy wholesomely and freely the emo- 
tional satisfactions of our relations with others. Refusing to admit our 
dislike or our love for another does not lessen the potency of the feel- 
ing. Repression only masks the emotion, which somehow, someway, 
must burst forth eventually with accumulated force and vigor. 

But responsive integrity does not mean going around with emotions 
unbuttoned, letting feelings spill over as they will without control. 
Necessarily involved is a great deal of self-imposed restraint and con- 
trol to keep expressions of feelings within the bounds of the particular 
relationship. The gushy girl who fusses around her brother does not 
share as much of him as does the sister who expresses her affection in 


more acceptable, sisterly ways. The touchy person who flies off the 
handle shares fewer confidences than the poised, unshockable one with 
whom people feel safe. Self-control for the sake of the recognized 
values of the relationship allows more freedom of access to others than 
is granted the less disciplined, who find themselves in emotional hot 
water much of the time. 

Take Sue and Emma, for instance. They both admire and work 
closely with an attractive married man in their office. Emma flashes 
her lashes and maneuvers for compliments and opportunities to be close 
to him. She goes to great lengths to let him know that he touches off 
her affectional responses. Yet she cannot win. If he responds to her 
advances, he will either be turned away from her by his own feelings of 
guilt, or he will take advantage of her availability without the loyalty 
and permanence most girls need to make sex satisfying. Or by com- 
pletely succumbing to her seduction, he faces the possibility of the 
breaking up of his home, which would inevitably be fraught with guilt, 
some ostracism, and pangs of conscience. More likely he will find her 
advances uncomfortable and take steps to remove himself as far as pos- 
sible from her silly, one-sided flirtation. 

Sue, on the other hand, just as honestly admits her interest in her 
colleague. But she lets her affection stimulate her productivity in the 
job they are doing together. She throws herself wholeheartedly into 
doing the kind of work that he will admire and that will do credit to 
them both. She expresses her admiration for his achievements in this 
way and so spurs him on to greater creativity. Theirs can be a growing 
relationship with a depth and breadth of permanence, because neither 
threatens the other with demands that are not intrinsically a part of 
their own working relationship. 

Responsive integrity, then, means wholehearted response to others 
through the avenues provided by the particular relationship. Respon- 
sive integrity is established when a person, accepting both his impulses 
and his conscience, exerts the self-controls that allow him freely to chan- 
nel the full power of his feelings. It is one important aspect of emanci- 
pation, of freedom to grow, because it opens up to him opportunities 
for friendships and working relationships with men and women which 
might otherwise have to cease with marriage's traditional exclusiveness. 
Persons with responsive integrity can frankly recognize that real affec- 
tion is a source of motivation in working with other people and that the 


enjoyment of work and play with others need not be followed by sexual 

Consequences of Immorality Harmful to Personality 6 

We should give some credit to our forefathers who were sensitive 
enough to understand the sheer power of sex and place it under rigid 
controls. They were mistaken, however, in thinking they could run 
away from it by banning the discussion of sex problems: we can't play 
ostrich and act as if the sex drive weren't there. We too recognize the 
wisdom of carefully controlling sex; it is not to be treated flippantly. 
Within marriage sex often presents problems. Outside of marriage it is 
difficult to gain permanent satisfaction from sex experiences. Psychi- 
atrists and marriage counselors daily observe the explosive and destruc- 
tive power of this phenomenon in wrecking the lives of hitherto well- 
adjusted people. 

Sex Is Personal. With most animals sex appears to be purely biologi- 
cal, a releasing of physical tensions. A female dog or cat in heat will 
accept one male after another without the slightest compunction, and 
with no concern as to who sired previous litters. Among humans in 
whom the response to persons as persons is so important, the situation 
is not simple. The mature individual can never be satisfied with a 
merely physical experience. He needs also affection and sympathy and 
tenderness. The physical experience alone leaves him hungry and un- 
satisfied. "All or nothing at all" is more than a once popular song. It 
can be sung with meaning by members of both sexes. Although the 
boy may prize the sensory gratifications more than the unawakened girl, 
he needs, nevertheless, the personal meanings to achieve any permanent 
satisfactions from the relationship. 

The average girl is unable to obtain physical gratification without 
abundant affection and attention. Sexual gratification for her is not a 
simple affair. She needs a basic personal security to achieve it. She 
needs understanding, tenderness, and constancy. There is clinical evi- 
dence that she needs a series of experiences, rather than single isolated 
experiences, and it is important that they be with the same person. 
Time and experience in becoming accustomed to each other are neces- 

6 We acknowledge help in this section from Dr. S. M. Duvall, Men, Women, 
and Morals (New York: Association Press, 1952). 


sary to achieve complete satisfaction. Short-run, surreptitious affairs 
lack both of these requisites. Because sex is personal in addition to be- 
ing biological, it is unlikely that promiscuity can produce the desired 

Emotional Involvement. If an unmarried couple decide to have sex 
relations, they must be assured of more than a casual, fly-by-night affair 
in order to achieve any degree of satisfaction. They will want to assure 
for their relation sufficient permanence to attain within its duration a 
mature sexual union. There are some who claim to have achieved this 
goal. Such permanence is rare, yet it is the prerequisite for satisfying 
sex relations. 

Unfortunately the history of couples who establish full sex relation- 
ships outside of marriage is not encouraging to read. Even engaged 
couples who have agreed on marriage plans find full sex relations bring 
unanticipated consequences. The pangs of conscience are something 
they expect and know how to handle because they expect to be married 
soon. They put up with these in order to experience the presumed sat- 
isfactions of complete intimacy. The experimenting couple, however, 
expect their love to be strengthened by their increased physical intimacy. 
But there are many indications that their idealized images of one an- 
other may be shattered thereby, that the sense of mystery, the aura of 
holiness, will vanish. Interest in the other wanes at the end of the 
chase, and the tensions of unrequited sex lose their titillating power as 
they are released, and the couple realize that they have "gone the 
limit." These ingredients of the romantic complex are lost simultane- 
ously with the recurrence of guilt feelings. Because we are conditioned 
to expect romantic love as a necessary prerequisite to marriage, its les- 
sening is interpreted as meaning that we were really not meant for each 
other, that the engagement should be broken off so that we may hunt 
for someone else. 

As we shall learn in later chapters, much the same transformation of 
emotional relationships takes place within marriage and partly for the 
same reasons. When romance wanes after marriage, however, it is not 
so hazardous. By then the ties have been formally sanctioned through 
the wedding ceremony, the couple has established a common household 
with its many satisfactions and interlocking functions. 

If the experimenting couple is not engaged, and has no plans for 


marriage, the emotional involvement may be fully as complicated. 
Once a couple attains a state of satisfactory sexual union, either the boy 
or (more usually) the girl begins to wish for something more perma- 
nent. If the relationship is satisfying, one or the other tends to become 
involved emotionally and begins to press for marriage. The member 
who is postponing marriage is thereupon frightened, and a bitter quarrel 
may ensue. The break at that point may prove disastrous to them both. 
But such is the nature of the sex relationship. If it is satisfying there 
will inevitably result profound emotional involvements that are not 
counted on. There is no halfway house; it is all or nothing at all. 

Sex can be safe and satisfying, only under circumstances which make pos- 
sible the full and rich development of its emotional involvements. If the 
physical aspects were all, those who know how to guard against physical dan- 
gers of disease and pregnancy might safely have as free a sex life as an alley 
cat. But they are not. Because of the psychological aspect, the temporary 
affair is almost all risk and little promise. Sex requires for its satisfaction a 
complete response of the whole personality. As a general policy, this means 
marriage. Biologically, people can go the limit, psychologically, only within 
the security of a sound and permanent marriage relationship. 7 

But Many Cross the Line 

The Ten Commandments are violated by people who would not deny 
their ethical soundness. The sex codes are no exception. Estimates of 
deviation from the single standard of sex morality, are at best approxi- 
mations; from 20 to 80 per cent of unmarried males by the age of 
twenty-five have had premarital intercourse, depending on the study you 
cite. From 10 to 50 per cent of all married males have intercourse with 
women other than their wives, at some time while they are married. 
Even the estimates of Alfred C. Kinsey and his associates, the highest 
reported to date, indicate that extramarital intercourse accounts for only 
from 5 to 10 per cent of their total sex outlets. 8 

Deviation from the code of premarital continence and marital fidel- 
ity is the only instance in our society where one instance of noncon- 
formity places a person in the category of being a deviant permanently. 
Stealing, lying, and cruelty to persons are not uncommon among young 

* S. M. Duvall, op. cit. 

8 Alfred C. Kinsey, and associates, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (Phila- 
delphia: Saunders, 1948), p. 588. 


people, and even among oldsters, yet if the person is honest, truthful, 
and kindly 90 per cent of the time, we tend to regard his behavior as 
conforming. With regard to sex, however, there is a tendency to divide 
young people into two camps, those who are virginal, that is, have never 
experienced sex union, and those who are nonvirginal, which groups to- 
gether all who have experienced intercourse one or more times. In con- 
cluding this discussion of sex morality we distinguish between cate- 
gories of deviants, and suggest that those who have had premarital inter- 
course only once or twice be not classified with those who habitually 
violate the moral code. 9 

Morality Does Make Sense 

The case for conformity to the moral code has constituted the content 
of this chapter. This particular code applies to old as well as to the 
young, to men as well as women. It involves a single standard of moral- 
ity. Our case has placed relatively little stress on the dangers of preg- 
nancy, of disease, and of social ostracism which are included in the 
negative approach to this problem. Ours is a positive approach. Con- 
formity to a single standard pays dividends in emotional stability, crea- 
tivity, and integrity. Nonconformity for most socialized Americans 
brings a certain quantum of guilt, dangers of involvement to the point 
of personality distortion to both parties, and possible probationary status 
in one's peer group. Morality makes sense because: 

1 Our society is organized around moral behavior as the norm. 

A moral code has grown up through years of experimentation with man- 
woman relationships which minimizes the strife of men fighting over their 
woman. Our monogamous marriage form is our solution of that problem, 
and to support it we insist that there be no sexual intercourse before mar- 
riage and that intercourse after marriage be restricted to marriage pairs. 

2 Conscience needs to be reckoned with. It's more comfortable to be 

We feel so strongly about the necessity of preserving what has proved to 
be a satisfying form of marriage and family life that we impose these ideas 

9 For the discussion of ethical implications of the many varied situations cov- 
ered by the sex code read especially Section III, "Sex Morality in Specific Situations," 
dealing with the morality of adultery, fornication, prostitution, and sexual intercourse 
in marriage in S. M. Duvall, Men, Women, and Morals (New York: Association 
Press, 1952), pp. 123-237. 


on our children during the most impressionable period of life. Moreover, 
children, through observation in informal family situations, internalize the 
do's and don'ts associated with sexual behavior and make them a part of 
themselves in what we have termed conscience. So effective is this indoc- 
trination that the matured adult feels completely secure only when he is 
behaving in accordance with the patterns prescribed by his parents, teach- 
ers, and friends. 

3 Ethical judgment rests on an understanding of the social order. 

Ethical judgment into the best solutions to unique situations depends 
partly on the understanding and acceptance of the moral code and partly 
on a knowledge of the consequences of behavior. On both counts the 
moral person has advantages over the morally illiterate. 

4 Social approval of friends is important to personal security, and the older 
we get the more conservative our friends become on moral issues. 

Status and reputation in the adult world rest upon the proof that a person 
behaves as his peers feel he should. During a short period in adolescence 
the adolescent peers encourage types of behavior forbidden by conscience, 
but thereafter the successively older sets he joins approve and support the 
moral codes. To obtain unqualified approval in his world it becomes im- 
portant to exemplify in his behavior the standards of correct sex conduct. 

5 Self-realization, freedom to grow, and freedom to work with others lie 
in the direction of moral living. 

The person in our society who enjoys the greatest freedom and has the 
greatest social access is one who knows the demands of the social order 
and uses them to free himself for creative activity. 

6 The consequences of immorality are harmful to personality and to mem- 
bers of society. 

Behavior, in the final analysis, must be judged by its effects on people. 
An act is right if it makes for the development of personality and human 
welfare; an act is wrong if it leads to the destruction of human personality. 
Because of the psychological aspects, the temporary affair is almost all risk 
and little promise. To live morally is simply the best way of living under 
existing conditions. 

Selected Readings 

BECKER, HOWARD, AND HILL, REUBEN, EDS., Family, Marriage, and Parent- 
hood (Boston: Heath, 1948), especially discussion of petting, pp. 241- 
243, and 319-321. 

DUVALL, SYLVANUS M., Men, Women, and Morals (New York: Association 
Press, 1952). 

GLUECK, ELEANOR, Moral Goals for Modern Youth (New York: Social Ac- 
tion, 1943). 


LEUBA, CLARENCE, Ethics in Sex Conduct (New York: Association Press, 


MEAD, MARGARET, Male and Female (New York: Morrow, 1951). 
MERRILL, FRANCIS E., Courtship and Marriage (New York: Sloane, 1949), 

Chap. 3. 
TITUS, HAROLD H., Ethics for Today (New York: American Book, 1936). 

Technical References 

BLOOD, ROBERT o., JR., "Romance and Premarital Intercourse Incompati- 
bles?" Marriage and Family Living (May, 1952). 

BOWMAN, CLAUDE c., "Cultural Ideology and Heterosexual Reality: A Pref- 
ace to Sociological Research," American Sociological Review, Vol. XIV, 
No. 5 (October, 1949). 

, "Social Factors Opposed to the Extension of Heterosexuality," Ameri- 
can Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 106, No. 6 (December, 1949). 

ELLIS, ALBERT, The Folklore of Sex (New York: Boni, 1951). 

KINSEY, ALFRED c., AND ASSOCIATES, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male 
(Philadelphia: Saunders, 1948). 

MACMURRAY, JOHN, Reason and Emotion (New York: Appleton-Century, 
1937), especially pp. 93-144. 

MURDOCK, GEORGE P., Social Structure (New York: Macmillan, 1949). 

PLANT, JAMES, Personality and the Cultural Pattern (New York: Common- 
wealth Fund, 1937). 


ual Behavior," The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. LII, No. 3 (No- 
vember, 1946). 

QUEEN, STUART A., AND ADAMS, JOHN B., The Family in Various Cultures 
(Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1952). 


"She had a successful career ahead of her. 
Thank goodness she saved herself in time!" 


Why do some people never marry? 
Is it true that opposites attract each other into marriage? 

Do remarriages work out? 

Do people marry for different reasons? 

Does who you are influence whom you marry? 

Who marry most happily? 


world; indeed, it can be said without fear of contradiction that marriage 
is our favorite institution. Ninety-one per cent of the population who 
live to age fifty-five marry. With these facts in mind, this chapter has 
been designed to answer: i. why marriage is so popular in America; 
2. why people get married; 3. why some people never marry; and 4. why 
some who marry are happier than others. 

Why People Marry 

Ask the man on the street why he gets married, and he will probably 
tell you that he does it because he loves the girl. His friends may rec- 
ognize other motives as they observe that the girl has money, and that 
she has obtained for him a soft berth in her father's business. In other 
countries it isn't necessary to mask all motivations under the label of 
love. Marriages of convenience are recognized and given status. We 
Americans find it difficult to admit any other reason for marrying except 
love. But there are many, many other reasons. 


First of all, the average person develops needs in his parental family 
for affection and emotional security which can only be satisfied in the 
intimacy of a home. As he grows up it becomes necessary for him to 
find the satisfaction of these deepest needs and wishes away from the 
parental home. It is most natural that he will feel impelled to establish 
his own family to meet these needs. 

Some word should be said for social pressure as a reason for marry- 
ing in America. Parents, relatives, employers, and married friends offer 
advice and point to the joys of wedded life to everyone who reaches 
marriageable age. There are places you can't go without a partner, and 
you find yourself excluded from pleasant associations with former friends 
now married. Social living becomes awkward, particularly in small com- 
munities; restaurant food is often inferior and quarters are unsatisfac- 
tory. Almost everyone will point out that the single pattern of living 
is abnormal, that marriage is the good life! 

The table below is an attempt to list the major needs for which 
young people anticipate satisfaction in marrying. These are only gen- 
eral reasons for getting married. The list would lengthen if you were to 
add your own highly individual reasons. 


Companionship and Love 

Need for intimate response, for understanding, for belonging to some- 
one exclusively. 

Home and Children 

Desire to have a home and children of one's own to symbolize adult 

Adventure and Romance 

Falling in love with love; arises as hunger in those whose lives seem drab 
or filled with boredom. 


Desire to escape an unhappy situation, difficult job, small town, or pov- 
erty, marriage promising a way out. (Often a jump from the frying 
pan . . .) 

Consolation for Failure 

Rebound. (Show the world by marrying the rescuer; may marry anyone 
who sympathizes, mistaking need of sympathy for love.) 


Join the Bandwagon 

Marrying in wartime because everybody's doing it. 


Desire to obtain a person who rates, who is badly wanted by others. 
(Rhett Butler married Scarlet O'Hara in Gone with the Wind to con- 
quer her.) 

Social Expectation 

Pressure of friends and parents to settle down and marry. (Girl marries 
a man she doesn't love to escape stigma of being an old maid.) 

Sex Attraction 

Response toward any attractive person of opposite sex. Important rea- 
son for initial contacts but second to companionship and understanding 
in marriage. (Like the flavoring in the cake; cake would be tasteless 
without it, but flavoring alone would be no cake! ) 

Social Status and Security 

Social acceptance. (Life in America organized for married people both 
socially and economically; promotions, advancements, opportunities go 
to married men.) 

Why Some People Never Marry 

If all that has been said is true, why should anyone remain unmarried? 
There are many factors which limit marriageability today, some highly 
impersonal, such as the maldistribution of marriageable men, geographi- 
cally and occupationally, and the increasing surplus of women of marry- 
ing age in the general population. Other factors which are much more 
personal are unhappy childhood experiences, emotional immaturity, 
mother and father fixations, standards of beauty and glamor, and per- 
fectionist standards. Ten out of every hundred mature American men 
remain bachelors through choice or individual circumstances. Approxi- 
mately 8 per cent of American women also remain unmarried. An 
analysis of their reasons for remaining celibates is in order. 

Some few people really don't want to marry for the reason that their 
early experiences in the home were unhappy. They carry over bitter at- 
titudes toward marriage and family life and would probably make poor 
marriage partners. Some prefer the freedom of single blessedness to 
married responsibility. They may wish to avoid the obligations in- 



volved in living intimately with another adult. From a purely habit 
standpoint, it is much simpler to continue with the routines of unmar- 
ried living. Sometimes a man is so tied to his mother, or a girl to her 
father, that no other person can ever take the place of the beloved par- 
ent. There are some people who have had distortions in their love de- 
velopment which make it difficult for them to love a person of the op- 


. Widowed Moles 

"Divorced Females 


4 7 '49 '5 1 

U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports, Series P 20, No. 35, Table 2: "Marital Status 
of Persons 14 Years Old and Over, by Sex, for the United States": "Civilian Population, 1947 to 
1951, and Total Population, 1890 to 1940." 

posite sex. A sense of shame or of unworthiness that has come from 
painful childhood experiences may keep one from forming the deep at- 
tachments that lead to marriage. It is probably best that these latter do 
not marry too. When they do marry the results are often tragic. 

More frequently, a person who wants to get married cannot find 
someone who is desirable and equally desirous of marriage. Impossibly 
romantic ideals of the perfect mate may keep the available choices from 
seeming suitable. The physically handicapped, for example, are often 
disappointed in their search for a desirable mate. Certain physical 
characteristics tend to be rejected out of all proportion to their signifi- 


cance in a marriage partner. Hair on the lip of a woman, or lack of it 
on the scalp of a man, lessens the attractiveness of the person in our 
society. Extreme height in the woman or shortness in the man dimin- 
ishes choices of dating partners and of mates. Birthmarks and other 
superficial disfigurements may operate almost as strongly in eliminating 
a person from the competitive struggle for a mate as many more basic 
handicaps. The attitude of the person toward his handicaps is usually 
more important than the mere fact that he has them. If shame, inade- 
quacy, and avoidance of people are his predominant attitudes, the 
handicap may seriously affect his chances of marriage. On the other 
hand, attitudes of acceptance, of friendliness, and objectivity toward 
oneself increase the possibility of rich friendships and satisfactory mari- 
tal choices. 

Too Few Marriageable Men. For years Sweden and France and other 
European countries have experienced a severe husband shortage. The 
man scarcity has recently spread to include America, much to the dis- 
may of the millions of girls now coming into the marrying age. In 1950 
the potentially marriageable female population which includes the 
single, divorced, and widowed, outnumbered the marriageable males by 
two million. Only in the youngest age groups are there boys enough, 
and most of these are not economically ready to marry. 

The deficit of men in the marrying ages is due to a number of fac- 
tors. There is first of all a higher death rate among males through 
greater biological weakness and greater exposure to industrial hazards. 
Man is not the stronger sex! Second, we have used up the very con- 
venient surplus of males who arrived through immigration, and there 
are no prospects of any more coming to replace them. Third, more 
men than women are to be found in the unmarriageable categories of 
convicts, psychotics, invalids, hobos, professional soldiers, and so on. 
Finally, the war casualties and war marriages of younger men to older 
women tend to decrease even further the supply of eligible men. 

For girls who want to do something constructive about getting a 
husband in the face of the present shortage, the figures show that there 
are still some sections of the country where men outnumber women. 
Detroit and Sacramento have no and 113 men per hundred women re- 
spectively. The New England states average only 96 men for each hun- 
dred women, compared with 111.4 in Idaho, 114.1 in Wyoming, and 


113.1 in Nevada. Girls who take their statistics seriously should con- 
sider Alaska, where men outnumber women 145.7 to a hundred. It 
makes a difference too whether a girl is in an occupation which throws 
her constantly into contact with men. Schoolteachers and librarians 
have low marriage rates, whereas dining-room hostesses marry in rela- 
tively great numbers. 

Careers and Education Discourage Marriage. Professional training for 
men and for women results in postponed marriages, sometimes indefi- 
nitely postponed. The pattern of getting established and earning for a 
few years before marrying means that young men in professional schools 
are not good marriage prospects and won't be for some time to come. 1 
Young women, therefore, face the fact that many of the young men 
they have known in college are not ready to marry, and that when they 
do marry they will take girls of a younger age group. To complicate 
matters further, college women plan to marry someone at least as edu- 
cated, as intelligent, and of as high social status as themselves. The 
more training a woman obtains, the narrower becomes the field from 
which she can choose a husband who will meet her educational quali- 

Standards Too High. Holding out for a standard of living that is un- 
attainable keeps still others from marriage. With the emphasis on get- 
ting ahead in the world, some young people postpone marriage until 
they can maintain the standard of living to which they have been ac- 
customed in their parental homes. Advertisements of model homes 
with automatic dishwashers, TV sets, tiled baths, and built-in conven- 
iences are all too often accepted as the current attainable standard. As 
a matter of fact, a very small percentage of American families live under 
such conditions. Few new families can hope to start out as well 
equipped as the "Ladies' Home Journal brides," complete with sterling- 
silver table service, white satin bridal gown, and so on. To some ambi- 
tious young people it seems important to delay marriage until the 
physical setting resembles the romantic picture of what the advertisers 

1 Paul Click and Emanuel Landau found age at marriage to average 29.5 and 
31.5 years for husbands whose incomes were respectively in the $5,000-5,900 and 
$6,000 and over brackets as compared with ages at marriage of 23-24 years for hus- 
bands in the $1,000-2,999 bracket. Occupational groups also varied in average age 
at marriage. See "Age as a Factor in Marriage," American Sociological Review, 
Vol. 15, No. 4 (August, 1950), pp. 517-529- 


say every young couple should have. The trouble is that the postpone- 
ment all too often becomes permanent! 

Even so, millions yearly testify to the popularity of marriage as an 
institution by getting married. The proportion married in America in- 
creased from 60 per cent of the population 14 years of age and over to 
67 per cent from 1940 to 1950. Even the widowed and divorced don't 
remain unmarried for any length of time. To be in the married status 
is regarded universally as highly desirable. An analysis of this marrying 
population appears in order. Who gets married, and to whom? Do 
likes marry opposites or people like themselves? 

Who Marries Whom? 

We tend to love and eventually to marry people like ourselves. It isn't 
an accident that doctors marry nurses and farm girls marry farmers. 
The more a boy and a girl have in common, the more likely they are to 
meet. Once they have met, the more traits they have in common, the 
more apt they are to marry. This tendency to marry someone who has 
social traits similar to one's own is called homogamy. Recent studies 
have shown that homogamy is overwhelmingly predominant over het- 
erogamy (the marriage of dissimilar people) . Two investigators 2 study- 
ing the social characteristics in a thousand engaged couples found that 
all but six of fifty characteristics showed more resemblance than dis- 
similarity. The factors studied included religious affiliation and behav- 
ior, family background, courtship behavior, conceptions of marriage, so- 
cial participation, and family relationships. 

The table on page 158 provides a listing of the factors found most fre- 
quently to be more similar than dissimilar among the thousand engaged 
couples studied. 

A recent novel clearly describes how parents of a couple react to dif- 
ferences in religious and social background. The daughter of a socially 
prominent family is attracted to a young lawyer of another religious 
faith. A scene with her father and mother ensues, in which the parents 
try to tell their daughter why they object to her choice: 

"Why?" he repeated, looking at her. "All right, I'll tell you why. I 
don't want my daughter to go through life neither flesh, fowl nor good red 

2 Ernest W. Burgess and Paul Wallin, "Homogamy in Social Characteristics/' 
American Journal of Sociology (September, 1943), pp. 109-124. 

1 58 




Conceptions of 
Marriage Held 

Age at beginning of courtship 

Number of going steady experiences 

Number of persons consulted about engagement 

Attitude toward married women working 
Attitude toward having children 
Number of children desired 
Attitude toward divorce 

Family Attachments 

Happiness of parents' marriage 
Attachment to father 
Attachment to siblings 

Religious Behavior 

Religious affiliation 
Church attendance 
Active membership 

Social Habits and Drinking habits 

Participation Smoking habits 

Leisure time preferences 

Extent of participation in organizations 

herring, living in a kind of no man's land where half the people you know 
will never accept him, and half the people he knows will never accept you. I 
don't want a son-in-law who'll be an embarrassment to my friends, a son-in- 
law who can't be put up at my club and who can't go with us to places where 
we've gone all our lives. I don't want a son-in-law whom I'll have to apolo- 
gize for and explain and have to hear insulted indirectly, unless I can remem- 
ber to warn people off first." 

"We want you to marry someone someone like us. Someone who'll 
fit in and whom we can" Margaret Drake caught her breath, then man- 
aged to say "can all be proud of," and suddenly shoving back her chair, she 
got up and left the room. 4 

Similar reactions are found among young people themselves. There 
is no denying that marital choice is affected by the similarity in attitudes 

8 Drawn from research study by Burgess and Wallin, op. tit., tables 1-6, pp. 

4 Selection from Gwethalyn Graham Erickson Brown, Earth and High Heaven 
(Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1944). 


and backgrounds. As has been shown in a previous chapter, pair unity 
develops with the formation of a common language and common goals. 
It is the couple's excuse for excluding the rest of the world and is pos- 
sible only where the members start out with many things in common. 

Do Opposites Also Attract? According to current folklore, the secret 
of mating is to select someone who will be exotically different in make- 
up. Accordingly, if you are a spendthrift you need a wife who will pinch 
the pennies, or if you are hyperactive you need a wife who is slow and 
easy going. The tales go even further in that they point out that oppo- 
sites have a fatal attraction for one another, that brilliant men marry 
the beautiful but dumb, that brunets seem drawn to blondes. To date, 
research proves these generalizations to be fallacious. They may be 
based more on the visibility of the exceptions than on an accurate count- 
ing of the total marrying public. Correlations of some magnitude are 
found between couples as to height, age, weight, intelligence, ethnic 
and occupational background, and geographical area of residence. The 
correlations with regard to temperament 5 are not so marked; indeed the 
findings are often conflicting. If opposites do attract each other it 
is only a temporary attraction; opposites don't marry in significant 

However, at least one author argues for keeping the question of ho- 
mogamy and heterogamy open for further investigation. Robert F. 
Winch points out that little evidence has been offered that persons with 
similar need patterns tend to marry. He poses the proposition that ho- 
mogamy operates to establish a field of eligible persons from whom mar- 
riage partners are selected, but that within the field of eligibles individ- 
uals tend to mate with those whose need patterns generally complement 
their own rather than with those whose need patterns are similar to their 
own. 8 This is entirely consistent with our later discussion of "meeting 
of needs" as a major cohesive factor in marriage. 7 

Intermarriage by Servicemen Overseas. As a Special case of heteroga- 
mous marriage in which opposites do marry, the unions of American 

5 Ernest W. Burgess and Paul Wallin are among those who find homogamy in 
temperament. They report a slight but statistically significant trend for like to mate 
with like with respect to 14 of 42 items from the Thurstone Neurotic Inventory and 
9 of 23 self -ratings on traits; see "Homogamy in Personality Characteristics," Jour- 
nal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, Vol. 39 (1944), pp. 475-81. 

Robert F. Winch, The Modern Family (New York: Holt, 1952), p. 403. 

T See Chap. 15, "What Holds a Marriage Together." 


servicemen and foreign women merit attention. Charles Fritz made an 
analysis of the 92,465 foreign war brides who entered the United States, 
1945-1948, to join their American husbands under Public Law 271 (War 
Brides Act). 8 He found trends toward homogamy even among these 
international marriages. For example, over one half of the foreign 
brides were from English-speaking countries. Moreover, the majority 
of men marrying foreign war brides were themselves children of foreign- 
born or were of mixed nativity. There was a distinct tendency toward 
homogamy in ethnic backgrounds of the husbands and the foreign war 
brides. Indeed, Eastern and Southern European brides tended to 
migrate to residence areas of their own nationality. 

No definitive information is yet available concerning the success of 
international marriages resulting from World War II and the subse- 
quent occupation of Germany and Asiatic countries. From data on in- 
ternational marriages of earlier date it is apparent that intermarriage of 
people with different family backgrounds proves hazardous because nei- 
ther party completely understands the values cherished by the other. 
Fully accepted by the members of neither society, the intermarried pair 
usually finds itself excommunicated from contacts with many people 
and is usually forced to join other atypical couples for purposes of social 
intercourse. j 

Most of the research on intermarriage has been centered on inter- 
racial marriages in this country. 9 Without exception the findings from 
this research argue against intermarriage. The situation may be even 
more aggravated in cases where the marriage takes place in far-away 
lands. Intermarriage of a Negro and a white person in South Side Chi- 
cago may actually be fraught with fewer difficulties than the mythical 
intermarriage of Sergeant Hagen of Murdo, South Dakota, with the 
daughter of a Nigerian chief in far-away Africa. Students of the prob- 
lem consider the differences in the ways of life of the participants in 
such a marriage to be more divisive than the differences in skin color 
or facial features. 

Where opposites do marry, interests which they have in common 

8 "A Study of World War II International Marriages," Master's Thesis, Uni- 
versity of Chicago (March, 1950). 

9 For a summary of the studies of intermarriage see two publications by Mil- 
ton L. Barren, People Who Intermarry (Syracuse, N. Y.: Syracuse University Press, 
1946), and "Research on Intermarriage: A Survey of Accomplishments and Pros- 
pects," American Journal of Sociology, Vol. LVII, No. 3 (November, 1951), pp. 


usually outnumber the highly visible characteristics in which they dif- 
fer. Successful intermarriages are possible if the parties first make sure 
that in every other area the essentials for a happy adjustment are pres- 
ent. They should be certain that they share similar attitudes toward 
work, play, children, and religion, and that they are temperamentally 
compatible. Such a test eliminates, it is true, most marriage possibili- 
ties in foreign lands the differences in upbringing disqualifying most 


Almost a fourth of the marriages in recent years have not been first mar- 
riages. Most divorced persons remarry, and except in the ages after 
forty-five most widows and widowers do too. In fact, the chances of 
remarriage are much higher for both divorced and widowed, age for 
age, than for single persons. The advantage of the divorced per- 
son is so great over the single and widowed, however, that even increas- 
ing age doesn't greatly reduce the likelihood of marriage. For example, 
a spinster of thirty has approximately a fifty-fifty chance of marriage; the 
widow of thirty has a sixty-forty chance; but the divorcee of the same age 
has 94 chances out of a hundred of remarrying. Not until the divorcee 
is forty-five do her chances drop to the fifty-fifty level of the thirty-year- 
old single woman. 10 

Most remarriage after divorce occurs within five years, and by four- 
teen years all but one seventh of the divorced have remarried. 11 The 
remarriages of widowed are much slower. About one third of the men 
and two thirds of the women had not remarried after fourteen years. 
There is a selective tendency for widowed or divorced women with chil- 
dren to remarry quickly or not at all. 

The evidence concerning the relative success of remarriages is con- 
flicting. Women appear to be poorer risks in second and subsequent 
marriages than men. 12 One worker calculates that second marriages in 
general are about 50 per cent more risky than first marriages. 13 

Second and subsequent marriages are less well off economically than 

10 Paul H. Landis, "Sequential Marriage," Journal of Home Economics, Vol. 
42 (October, 1950), pp. 625-628. 

11 Paul C. Click, "First Marriages and Remarriages/' American Sociological 
Review, Vol. 14 (December, 1949), pp. 726-734. 

12 Landis, op. cit., p. 627. 
Ibid., p. 627. 




AGE 20 




AGE 30 




ACE 45 




Prom Landis, op. cit., p. 625, based on calculations from records 
of twenty-two states and the District of Columbia. 


first marriages. This is true, not only in terms of money income of the 
remarried men, but also from the standpoint of improved occupational 
level. A general pattern of improvement in occupational level is dis- 
cernible for men during their initial ten years of married life, but no 
such pattern is discernible for the first ten years of remarried life. 14 

What Type of Couple Marries Most Happily? 

Many novels end with the implied statement, "and they lived happily 
ever after." Few mature persons will be taken in by such a poorly 
couched generalization, but until recently there were no studies to show 
how couples whose marriages remained happy differed in make-up from 
those who became chronically unhappy after marriage. Scattered stud- 
ies in the nineteen twenties paved the way for two research groups early 
in the 1930'$ working quite independently, one in Illinois " and the 
other in California. 16 Their task was to test the factors making for hap- 
piness in marriage. Although the two studies used different criteria of 
marital success, the first using "marital adjustment" and the second 
"marital happiness," the factors most highly associated with marital suc- 
cess corroborated each other in both studies at many significant points. 17 
Because these studies were limited to regionally restricted populations, 
conducted primarily with urban white couples, it was important that 
comparative investigations be launched to test these authors' findings in 
other settings. Comparable studies have now been completed in Min- 

Click, op. cit., p. 734. 

16 Ernest W. Burgess and Leonard S. Cottrell, Jr., Predicting Success or Failure 
in Marriage (New York: Prentice-Hall, 1939). 

16 Lewis M. Terman and associates, Psychological Factors in Marital Happiness 
(New York: McGraw-Hill, 1938). 

17 Most of the research studies to date have employed either the yardstick of 
"happiness" in marriage or "adjustment," depending heavily on self-ratings and 
friends' ratings on happiness for ranking the couples studied. The happiness con- 
cept involves such difficulties as person-to-person differences concerning the nature 
of happiness, the possibility that happiness may be determined to a considerable de- 
gree by factors external to the marriage, and the chance that happiness is a tem- 
peramental characteristic of the person rather than a property of trie marriage. Ad- 
justment as a concept puts high priority on agreements between husband and wife 
on the major issues of marriage without specifying at what cost these agreements are 
achieved; namely, by wife giving in, having no ideas of her own, and so on. Adjust- 
ment may be rated high simply because there is absence of marital conflict. Actually 
some conflict in marriage may be necessary for growth. For a more detailed critique 
see, Waller and Hill, The Family: A Dynamic Interpretation (N. Y.: Dryden, 1951), 
pp. 342-370. 

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nesota, Michigan, New York, Indiana, North Carolina, Sweden, and 
China, by Kirkpatrick and Taves, Landis, Williams, Locke, King, Karls- 
son, and Smythe, respectively. 18 In addition, Williams has studied rural 
couples, King has studied Negro couples, and Karlsson and Smythe have 
investigated couples in other societies. The findings of these investiga- 
tions converge at a number of points in spite of the multiversity of the 
populations studied. 

A summary of the factors on which the studies are most frequently 
in agreement has been prepared on pp. 164-165 under five major head- 
ings: "Personality Characteristics," "Cultural and Family Backgrounds," 
"Sociability Factors," "Response Patterns," and "Sex Factors." For 
ease and convenience in reading, these five areas are broken down into 
attributes which are favorable, unfavorable, or unrelated to marital suc- 
cess. These findings cannot be applied successfully to individual cases. 
At best they are statistical averages derived from the study of many hun- 
dreds of cases. It is important to realize that for every finding reflected 
in this table there are numerous marriages which are happy even though 
they do not possess the quality listed. 

To the extent that the factors in the preceding table can be meas- 
ured before marriage, the general matrimonial risk of a person may 
be calculated much as the life insurance companies compute the life 
chances of an individual applicant for insurance from actuarial tables. 
Of greater import to young people about to marry would be data which 
would enable them to calculate their own matrimonial risk in combina- 
tion with a particular person. Research has not yet progressed to this 
point in the field of marriage prediction. It is our considered judgment 
that the present factors need further testing before any combined ap- 
plications may be made safely. 

Personality and Temperament. Terman has found that marital happi- 
ness is largely determined by one's all-round happiness of tempera- 
ment. 19 Happiness of temperament is not to be confused either with 
Pollyannish or sugary attitudes or with the happy-go-lucky disposition, 
but refers to the items listed under personality characteristics in the ta- 
ble just described. Non-neurotic, permissive, adaptable, cooperative in- 
dividuals can live comfortably with any but the most disagreeable mate. 

18 For publication data on these studies see the list of technical references at 
the end of the chapter, p. 169. 

19 L. M. Terman and M. Oden, The Cifted Child Grows Up; Twenty-Five 
Years Followup of a Superior Group (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 1947), 
Chap. 18. 


Certain types of personalities would find almost any marriage unbear- 
able, and their attributes are listed in the unfavorable column of the 
same table. Marriage brings with it situations which are frustrating, 
perplexing, and burdensome. Personalities which thrive under stress are 
said to have high aptitude for marriage. 

Cultural and Family Backgrounds. Cultural homogeneity of back- 
grounds simplifies the forging of workable family routines, facilitates the 
arrival at mutually acceptable solutions to problems, and increases the 
likelihood of quick and open communication when one's needs are not 
met. Childhood background, including the happiness of parents' mar- 
riage, the history of happiness in childhood, and the disciplinary policies 
of parents, all appear significant in later marital happiness. One's ap- 
prenticeship in the intimacies of family living starts in the parental 
home. If it has been inadequate, or unhappy, or distorted, it is usually 
necessary to obtain the training for a happy marriage elsewhere: in the 
homes of friends, relatives, or from counseling and formal schooling. 
Young people whose home experiences have been unhappy are not in- 
frequently highly motivated to avoid similar mistakes in their own mar- 
riages and make great strides under proper guidance. 

Sociability and Conventionality. Sociability, or the tendency to join 
with friends of both sexes for companionship, is highly associated with 
marital adjustment. It is linked in our list of factors with convention- 
ality of social behavior: attendance at church, and conservative political 
leanings. In America there is apparently some stability obtained from 
conforming to the expectations of the community, having the marriage 
ceremony performed by a minister or priest, and maintaining affiliation 
with a church. 

Response Patterns. The capacity to give and receive affection, as 
measured by replies to questions on demonstration of affection, is as- 
sociated with success in marriage. Love based on companionship and 
a community of interests and activities appeared in happy contrast with 
love relationships based on romantic infatuation and highly individual- 
ized interests. Companionship based marriages were usually of longer 
acquaintance before marriage. The response patterns appear to be 
derived partly from parental family experiences and partly from the his- 
tory of one's past pair relationships in dating, going steady, and engage- 
ments. Strong attachment to the father, some similarity between par- 
ent of opposite sex and the affianced, and approval of the marriage by 


the parents reflect the pleasurable history of parental relationships ante- 
cedent to marriage. The capacity to give and receive affection probably 
stems directly from this series of attachments. 

Attitudes toward Sex. Sexual adjustment in marriage depends much 
more upon psychological than upon physical factors. Marriages are 
therefore more likely to be satisfying in this realm where the first sex 
information has been received from parents rather than acquired on the 
street. Parental frankness in answering the questions of children about 
sex and in giving them adequate information tends to develop healthy 
attitudes toward the sexual experiences of marriage. These in turn are 
undoubtedly related to achieving similarity of sex desires, developing 
orgasm capacity in the wife, and other tasks of sex adjustment in mar- 

In brief summary this chapter has pointed up the popularity of mar- 
riage in America. It is without doubt our favorite institution. Nine 
out of ten Americans marry at least once during their lifetime. The 
reasons for marriage rank companionship, home and children, and se- 
curity high. Marriages for convenience are not only rare but rational- 
ized as based on love where they occur. 

Failure to marry can be attributed to impersonal factors such as mal- 
distribution of marriageable men geographically and occupationally, and 
to personal factors having to do with unhappy childhood experiences, 
mother and father dependence, ineligibility because of American stand- 
ards of beauty and glamor, and perfectionism in mate choice. Higher 
education tends to narrow the field from which a woman may choose a 
husband, but once married her chance of success in marriage increases. 

The evidence is overwhelming that homogamy operates in mate se- 
lection. If opposites in background and attitudes attract each other it 
is apparently only temporary because they don't marry in significant 
numbers. Exceptions may be found in the area of need patterns where 
opposites with complementary need patterns may possibly mate prof- 

Finally, we found that couples were more likely to marry happily 
who brought happiness of temperament to marriage, who were from 
culturally similar backgrounds, conventional in their outlook on religion 
and other issues, and whose capacity to give and receive affection was 
unimpaired at marriage. 


Selected Readings 

BOWMAN, HENRY A., Marriage for Moderns (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1948), 
chaps. 2, 3. 

LANDIS, JUDSON T., AND LANDis, MARY G., Building a Successful Marriage 
(New York: Prentice-Hall, 1948), Chap. 3. 

LANDIS, PAUL H., "Sequential Marriage," Journal of Home Economics, 
Vol. 42 (October, 1950), pp. 625-628. 

SCHEINFELD, AMRAM, Women and Men (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 
1944), Chap. 16. 

WALLER, WILLARD, AND HILL, REUBEN, The Family: A Dynamic Interpreta- 
tion (New York: Dryden, 1951), Chap. 11. 

Technical References 

BARRON, MILTON L., People Who Intermarry (Syracuse: Syracuse University 
Press, 1946). 

BURGESS, E. w., AND COTTRELL, LEONARD s., JR., Predicting Success or Failure 
in Marriage (New York: Prentice-Hall, 1939). 

BURGESS, E. w., AND WALLIN, PAUL, Engagement and Marriage (Chicago: 
Lippincott, 1953). 

CENTERS, RICHARD, "Marital Selection and Occupational Strata," American 
Journal of Sociology, Vol. 54 (May, 1949), pp. 530-536. 

ELLIS, ALBERT, "The Value of Marriage Prediction Tests," American Socio- 
logical Review, Vol. 13 (December, 1948), pp. 710-718. 

GREENBERG, JOSEPH H., Numerical Sex Disproportion (Boulder, Colorado: 
University of Colorado Press, 1950). 

KARLSSON, GEORG, Adaptability and Communication in Marriage (Upsala, 
Sweden: Upsala Sociological Institute, 1951). 

KIRKPATRICK, CLIFFORD, What Science Says about Happiness in Marriage 
(Minneapolis: Burgess Publishing Company, 1947). 

KOLB, WILLIAM L., "Sociologically Established Family Norms and Demo- 
cratic Values," Social Forces, Vol. 28 (May, 1948), pp. 451-456. 

LANDIS, JUDSON T., "Length of Time Required to Achieve Adjustment in 
Marriage," American Sociological Review, Vol. 11 (December, 1946), 
pp. 666-677. 

LOCKE, HARVEY j., Predicting Adjustment in Marriage (New York: Holt, 

TAVES, MARVIN j., "A Direct vs. an Indirect Approach in Measuring Marital 
Adjustment," American Sociological Review, Vol. 13 (October, 1948), 
pp. 538-541. 

TERMAN, L. M., AND OTHERS, Psychological Factors in Marital Happiness 
(New York: McGraw-Hill, 1938). 

WALLER, WILLARD, AND HILL, REUBEN, The Family: A Dynamic Interpreta- 
tion (New York: Dryden, 1951), Chap. 17. 

WINCH, ROBERT F., The Modern Family (New York: Holt, 1952), Chap. 15. 


"Please, Miss Larve, just say 'I do'/ 


How formal does a wedding have to be to be right? 
How do you decide whom to invite to your wedding? 
What do you do first in getting ready for a wedding? 

Who pays for what? 
Just how flexible can you be and still have a nice wedding? 



Justice of the Peace with all the haste and impersonality involved in 
such a marriage, you will need to make some wedding plans. Most 
girls look forward to some kind of wedding. However, many girls and 
most men do not want a very large formal type of wedding. You do 
not need to elope to avoid such a wedding. There are simple, inexpen- 
sive weddings that are satisfying at the moment and that will bring 
warm memories long afterwards. But of whatever type, a wedding has to 
be planned to be effective. 

When you marry, you may not have much choice about the kind of 
wedding yours will be. In some circles, the bride's mother takes over 
almost completely and manages everything from the first invitation to 
the last detail with only occasional reference to the preferences of bride 
and groom. Your wedding may have to conform to the expectations 
of your father's friends and associates or be according to rigidly pre- 
scribed forms. Or, you may find yourself being married in the chapel 
of a military post, either with strict formality and full military honors, 
or in the stark simplicity of a ceremony arranged at a moment's notice. 


Setting the Wedding Date 

The date of your wedding may have to be set at the time of a military 
leave or a long-awaited vacation from work. Then all your plans and 
arrangements are made around those dates as soon as they are fairly defi- 
nite. If there is some flexibility, the bride usually sets the date that 
will come at a time when she is not menstruating, and allows time to 
get her clothes ready, and wedding arrangements completed. She talks 
over possible dates with her fiance and together they choose a wedding 
time that will be most convenient to them both. 

As soon as the couple has selected a tentative date for their wed- 
ding, it is wise for them to clear it with both immediate families, to rule 
out the possibility of a conflicting date of importance, and to reserve 
the date definitely in family plans. This is not too early to contact the 
church, chapel, or club to make sure that it may be reserved for the 
hour of the wedding, unless of course this is to be a home wedding. 
Which brings us to the question, what kind of wedding is it to be? 

Types of Weddings 

The type of wedding you have depends upon many factors: i. your own 
hopes and dreams through the years; 2. the amount of money you want 
to spend; 3. the families you both come from, their wishes and interests 
and social standing; 4. your location with particular reference to the 
kinds of places suitable for a wedding; 5. the number of friends and rela- 
tives you want to invite; and 6. the amount of time you have to plan 
ahead for the wedding. 

Weddings range all the way from simple informal affairs to large 
formal pageants. You may choose the type of wedding that best fits 
your situation from any of the following general patterns with whatever 
modifications make the occasion most meaningful to you. 

1 Small home wedding with only members of the immediate families 
present, and whatever decorations, music, and refreshments seem suit- 
able. Such a wedding is the least expensive in time and money, and 
can follow the individual wishes of the couple more freely than other 

2 Informal chapel wedding to which only immediate relatives and close 
friends are invited/with the couple receiving their guests in the foyer 


following the ceremony. Although there may be no reception as such, 
the immediate wedding party may go somewhere for a wedding break- 
fast afterwards if they wish. This type of wedding can be easily ar- 
ranged, kept as simple as the couple desires, is inexpensive, and can be 
quite lovely. One modification of this is for the wedding to take place 
following a regular service in the bride's church, to which the guests 
come as soon as the previous service is over. This is convenient for or- 
ganist, minister, and many guests. The altar is already decorated, and 
extra arrangements are kept to a minimum. 

3 Small -wedding in church, home, or club to which members of the 
two families and friends are invited, followed by a reception, that may 
include a longer guest list, if desired. The reception may take place in 
the church parlors, in the home, the club, or in some other suitable 
place nearby. The longer guest list may be for the ceremony itself with 
only a few chosen friends and family members invited to the reception 
that follows in another place. When the reception is held at the place 
of the ceremony, all those attending the ceremony are invited to the re- 
ception as well. 

4 The home, garden, or club -wedding and reception for everyone in the 
same location. In this type of wedding there is a flow from the cere- 
mony to the receiving line to the refreshment tables with all guests par- 
ticipating. This may be an elaborate affair of The Father of the Bride 
variety, or it may be a simple ceremony under the trees in the yard or 
at an altar improvised inside. A sit-down wedding breakfast, a buffet 
supper, or simple refreshments of the stand-up sort, around whatever 
menu is appropriate, is chosen depending upon the number of guests, 
the accommodations, personnel to serve, and of course the budget. 

5 Formal, or semijormal church -wedding, followed by a small home or 
club reception to which only a few friends and the two families are 
asked. Here the pomp and splendor are in the ceremony, with the sec- 
ondary interest in the reception. This can be as elaborate or as simple 
as the bride and her family may desire. The formal ceremony itself de- 
mands both time and money to be in accordance with traditional form. 
A wedding consultant to advise on the costuming of the wedding party, 
decorations, wedding processional, the recessional, and all such details, 
can be a great help in the formal wedding, which to be proper must 
conform to convention. 


6 Large, formal church, cathedral, or synagogue 'wedding, followed by 
home, hotel, or country club reception to which all wedding guests are 
invited. Here, money is no object, and the bills may total many thou- 
sands of dollars. This may represent not only the family's investment in 
the couple, but as is often the case, is one way of attaining or maintain- 
ing social position and/or cementing business interests. Such a wed- 
ding lies outside the scope of this writing. Professional wedding serv- 
ices are in the business of arranging large formal weddings down to the 
last detail, under contract for a suitable fee. 

Whom to Invite and How 

It is usual for the family of the bride to invite the guests to the wed- 
ding. As soon as the decision has been made as to the type of wedding 
it will be, the bride and her family, in consultation with the groom and 
his parents, make out the list of persons to be invited. If the wedding 
is to be a small home affair, with only members of the immediate fami- 
lies present, the matter is a simple one except in problems of close rela- 
tives by blood or marriage who have been cut off from the family by dis- 
tance, divorce, or estrangement. It is wise to invite all such family 
members as is at all possible. To exclude them from such an important 
occasion is often to widen the breach and to make for feelings of guilt 
and uneasiness among those present. Whether or not they are in- 
cluded, the decision should be the joint responsibility of all the family 
members planning the wedding. 

Members of the immediate family and close friends may be invited 
to the small home, or informal chapel wedding, personally by the bride 
or her mother, by word of mouth, telephone, telegraph, or informal 
note, whichever is most convenient. In this case, announcements of 
the wedding are sent to all other relatives and friends as soon as the 
ceremony has been performed. 

Guests to formal or semi-formal weddings are always invited by en- 
graved wedding invitations according to prescribed forms available at 
the engravers. These are mailed from three to four weeks in advance of 
the ceremony. The order should be placed with the engraver about six 
weeks before the mailing date. Outside envelopes in the quantity de- 
cided upon may be secured from the engraver at the time the order is 


placed, so that addressing may be done in pen and ink at home while 
the engraving is being completed. If the list is very long, it is well to 
alphabetize it and check for duplicates and omissions before addressing 
the envelopes. 

The engraved invitation may be used also in informal weddings to 
which a considerable number of guests are being invited. If engraving 
is too costly an item in the wedding budget, there is a form of raised 
printing that is frequently used instead of engraving that is much less 
expensive. The same general forms, dates for mailing and other cus- 
toms are followed. 

On the outside envelopes go the full names and addresses of the 
guests. Both husband and wife are invited as a Mr. and Mrs. unit, ex- 
cept in a case like the following. When the entire office force goes as a 
group to a wedding of one of its members at or close to office hours, it 
is not expected that the husbands and wives of members of the office 
staff will be invited. 

If there is some question about the correct address of the guest, the 
return address of the sender may be included on the outside envelope; 
otherwise it is not necessary. 

Names of members of the family not specifically indicated on the 
outside envelope may be written on the inside envelope of the wedding 
invitation, so that it may be clear just who it is that is being invited. In 
the case of a couple with two children, for instance, the names of each 
one of the four would be listed one under the other on the inside en- 
velope. It is not necessary to invite the children to the wedding, but if 
one is invited, the other(s) should be included except for some impor- 
tant reason. Names of other relatives (brothers, sisters, mothers, etc.) 
living in the same residence may similarly be included in the listing of 
names on the inside envelope, or, somewhat more properly, they may 
receive separate invitations. It is usual for family members at different 
addresses and for members of an engaged couple to receive separate in- 

Unless you put R.S.V.P. on the invitations to your wedding and re- 
ception, your guests are under no obligation to reply. So, if you need 
to know the number of guests to be expected, be sure to indicate on the 
invitation that a reply is expected, including the address to which the 
reply is to be sent, if there is apt to be some question about it. Replies 


to formal invitations are usually written in the third person and mailed 
first class. Informal invitations may be acknowledged by a simple note, 
or verbally by telephone, or by person to person. 

If you have a considerable number of acceptances and regrets to 
keep track of, you will need some kind of system that will give you an 
accurate count. One bride-to-be simply set two boxes, one marked 
"YES" and the other "NO/' on a convenient table. As replies came in 
the mail, or were given members of her family, they were dropped into 
the "YES" box if they were acceptances, and the "NO" box if regrets. 
Her tallies of each gave her a basis for an estimate for the caterer, and 
a final figure of total response. Tip: Always plan for a few extras; you 
never can tell! 


Engraved (or raised printing for economy's sake) announcements of the 
marriage are sent to all relatives and friends who did not receive an in- 
vitation to the wedding. Announcements follow a slightly different 
form than invitations, examples of which are available to serve as mod- 
els at any stationer's or engraver's office. Lists of persons to receive an- 
nouncements are collected from both bride and groom and their fami- 
lies, compiled and checked for duplicates as is done for invitations. 
Envelopes are personally addressed in pen and ink at home while 
awaiting delivery of the announcements and the inside envelopes. These 
may be prepared ahead. But, they are not mailed until after the cere- 
mony, usually by some member of the bride's family. An "at home" 
card giving the address of the newly married couple and the date by 
which they will be settled may be enclosed with the announcement, or 
included in it, for the convenience of those who may wish to call, or 
send wedding gifts to the couple. 

As with the invitations, the bride's parents' names are the first named 
on the announcement. In cases of death or divorce, the remaining par- 
ent's name alone is correct. When the bride is a mature woman long 
out of her parental home, she may announce her own marriage quite 
properly according to forms already developed and available as models. 

If, for some reason, the formal announcement is not desired, either 
the bride or some senior member of her family may write to relatives 
and friends not present at her marriage, telling them about it, and thus 


announcing it informally. Likewise, the groom or one of his parents 
writes members of his family and friends about the wedding as soon as 

Wedding Gifts 

As soon as invitations are out, wedding gifts begin to arrive. Each one 
should be personally acknowledged by the bride just as soon as possible. 
With all the other things she has to do as the wedding date approaches, 
some sort of system will help. It is wise to plan ahead on where gifts 
will be kept and how they will be displayed. As each gift arrives, it is 
labeled with a number corresponding to that which the bride writes for 
it in her gift record along the following headings: 

Description Date Name and Address Name and Address Date 

N ' of Gift Rec'd of Sender of Store Acknowledged 

Such gift records appear in the back of wedding books given brides by 
some stores, or she may make her own in any way that seems most con- 
venient for her to keep her gift record straight. 

When a gift arrives, the bride may wait until her fiance drops by be- 
fore opening it, if they enjoy opening gifts together. Or, she may open 
it and enter it into her record at once, carefully preserving the card, and 
perhaps the packing slip from the store from which it was sent. (WARN- 
ING! Many gifts are multiple, so wrappings should be searched carefully 
before they are discarded.) If she keeps close by the spot where she un- 
wraps her gifts such items as pen, note paper, stamps, and her address 
book, she will find that it does not take too long to immediately ac- 
knowledge each gift as it arrives. It is gracious of her to specifically men- 
tion the gift and express her warm appreciation for it and tell how she 
plans to use and enjoy it. 


Returning Wedding Gifts. It sometimes happens that a couple will 
have no use for a gift that has been sent them. One couple received 
seventeen sugars and creamers, only a few of which could be expected to 
be used. In such a case, and in all other cases where the gift does not 
fit into the plans of the couple, it may be returned to the store from 
which it was sent and exchanged for something more suitable. It is 
therefore wise for the bride to save the packing slips and the inner box 
in which the gift comes, for use in case it is to be exchanged. In a situa- 
tion like this, the bride may acknowledge the gift as usual, being careful 
not to say anything to offend or hurt the sender at the same time that 
she avoids telling a falsehood. She can always express her gratitude for 
being remembered without mention of the possible inappropriateness 
of a gift. 

In the event that the engagement is broken, after wedding gifts have 
been received, the gifts are returned to the senders with a little note in- 
dicating that the wedding plans have been cancelled. Postponement of 
the wedding in case of illness, death, or for any other reason does not 
necessitate the return of the gifts. 

Broken or Undelivered Wedding Gifts. What should you do if a gift 
is delivered in a damaged condition? If the gift has been sent by a 
store, it is quite proper to call or write the store saying that the item 
sent to you on such a date as a gift by Mrs. So-and-So has arrived in 
such and such condition, and asking them to pick it up and replace it. 
If the package was wrapped and sent from home, it is best to say noth- 
ing about its condition when acknowledging the gift. If the giver asks 
you specifically about the gift, of course you will have to tell her. 

The undelivered gift is another cause for frequent embarrassment. 
Aunt Mary told Jane that she was sending her an electric toaster for a 
wedding gift. The wedding is long since over, and still no toaster, nor 
further word from Aunt Mary. Jane needs a toaster, but hesitates to 
buy one when Aunt Mary still might send it as she volunteered. What 
should Jane do? One real possibility is that Aunt Mary ordered the 
toaster to be sent as a gift, and the store failed to fill the order. Jane 
might operate on this assumption and, writing a pleasant note to Aunt 
Mary, mention her anticipation of receiving the toaster that Aunt Mary 
said she was sending. If Aunt Mary wonders why no acknowledgment 
of her gift has come, she can either have the store check its records, or 
she may tactfully ask Jane if the item has been delivered. Such a fol- 


low-up on either the giver's or the receiver's part is a kindness when 
carefully managed. 

Suggestions for Wedding Gift Selections. Many stores offer prospec- 
tive brides a service, in which the bride goes over the stock and selects 
those things that she would like to have. The store then lists these, in- 
cluding her choice of silver pattern, household china and glassware, 
color schemes, etc., so that those who wish to send some suitable gift 
may choose from the list f possibilities registered with the store. This 
assures the sender of giving something that will be appropriate, and the 
bride and groom of receiving things that they want and can use. 

Friends and family members often ask either the bride or her mother 
what would be acceptable as a wedding gift. It is quite all right to reply 
specifically if it is done in such a way that the sender is given some 
latitude for the cost of the item. For instance, if the giver indicates 
that she would like to send silver, the name of the pattern selected may 
be given her so that she may add a piece or as many pieces as fit her 
budget. Or, a list of several items of varying costs may be suggested. 
In answer to the direct question about the acceptability of some specific 
item: " Would you like an electric iron?" the reply may be frank ap- 
preciation or rejection of the suggestion; e.g., "Oh, we'd love one, thank 
you," or "Thank you, it's a grand idea, but Ted's mother has already 
sent us one." 

In answer to the question, "Is money an acceptable wedding gift?" 
Emily Post says "No," listing as her reason the fact that the money is 
spent and the couple has nothing definite to remember the sender by. 
However, many couples who marry today find money a highly accept- 
able gift in many instances. Some couples are not able to establish a 
household of their own for some time. For them the problem of stor- 
ing wedding gifts may be a difficult one. Other couples go to house- 
keeping in limited quarters where there will be no place to put many of 
the things that they get for their wedding. Most young couples start 
out with limited finances that must be stretched as far as dollars can 
go and, knowing just what they need and what they can do without 
for a while, can possibly more wisely spend the gift allotment than 
could all but their closest associates. 

One possible compromise between Emily Post and modern expedi- 
ency is the giving of a United States Government Bond, which may be 
turned in for cash at once if needed, or "salted away" as a gift of se- 


curity from the sender until it matures, or until it can be used to pur- 
chase some much needed item for the new household. 

Clothes for the Wedding 

Your wedding clothes and those of your guests will be in keeping with 
the type of wedding yours is to be. Procedure for the formal wedding 
rigidly prescribes the clothing worn by bride, groom, and all members 
of the wedding party. More simple weddings allow considerable lati- 
tude within certain general conventions. Wedding clothes do not need 
to be expensive to be appropriate and effective. They may be as elabo- 
rate as the bride and her family may choose. 

What the Bride Wears. The bride chooses her wedding outfit as the 
keynote theme of her wedding. If the wedding is formal, her dress will 
be in traditional white or near-white in some suitable fabric, with a train 
from three to seven yards in length over which falls the wedding veil 
from the bridal headpiece of fabric, flowers, or jewels in keeping with 
the period and style of the gown. Depending upon its elaborateness 
the formal wedding gown may cost anywhere from several hundred to 
several thousands of dollars. To be right, it must be carefully fitted. 

Any bride-for-the-first-time may wear a traditional white wedding 
gown no matter what the type of her wedding. For the informal wed- 
ding, the bride's outfit may be a simple floor length model and either no 
train or one of a yard or so in length, with a veil that is finger tip length 
caught in a simple fabric headpiece, or a garland of flowers. She may 
wear the wedding dress that she has inherited from her mother or 
grandmother, carefully fitted to her figure. She may buy her gown and 
veil, or have it made for her, or as some gifted girls do, she may make 
it herself. The cost may be as low as a few dollars and her time; or it 
may mount up depending upon the quality of the material, the profes- 
sional fitting needed, and "the name" of the designer. 

The bride may choose to wear a ballet length gown in white or pastel 
color. Or she may wear a street length gown in some soft becoming 
color and fabric. Or, she may select a well-cut suit and blouse with 
which she would wear hat and gloves. Shoes and other accessories are 
chosen in keeping with the rest of her outfit. 

Outfits for the Bride's Attendants. There are just two rules for what 
bridesmaids should wear: i. bridesmaids' costumes are in the same pe- 


riod as the bride's, and fit into the wedding theme that she has set. 
2. bridesmaids' costumes are alike, except possibly in color. Fabric, 
styling, and accessories harmonize with the costumes worn by the bride 
and her attendant. 

The matron of honor, or the maid of honor (if unmarried) is the 
personal attendant of the bride and chooses her costume to complement 
that of the bride. She may or may not wear a hat or headpiece depend- 
ing upon the nature of the costume. When gloves are worn they are 
long with a short-sleeved dress or short with a long-sleeved dress. Her 
flowers may be in any harmonious color and style. Her outfit is usually 
slightly different from that of the bridesmaids' but harmonizes in color 
and styling. 

The flower girl, usually a child of the family or close friends, wears 
a dress like that of the bridesmaids or one that is of the same general 
type, with suitable accessories. 

T/)e Groom and His Attendants Dress Alike. Whatever the type of 
wedding, the men of the party dress alike. At the formal evening wed- 
ding, the groom, his best man, and the ushers all wear full dress suits: 
"White tie and tails." For the formal daytime wedding, cutaway coats 
and dark gray striped trousers, gray tie and gloves are prescribed. A 
simple wedding calls for dark blue suits, white shirts, plain ties, and no 
gloves for the men of the wedding party. In summertime, informal 
white jackets and dark blue trousers are sometimes worn at informal 

Only the men's boutonnieres are different. The groom's lapel blos- 
som is usually white, while those of the groom's attendants may be in 
color. The groom's boutonniere may be somewhat more elaborate 
than the best man's and the ushers'; some little distinction marks the 
groom as "the man of the day" apart from his attendants. 

In some circles suits of the same material for bride and groom have 
been popular. The color usually is some shade of blue, although there 
is no reason why some other color becoming to both could not be 
chosen. Black is rarely worn at weddings because of its association with 
mourning. Brown and gray suits for men are not usual at weddings, but 
there is no absolute rule that forbids them. In general, although there 
are conventions about what is proper to wear, the choice is up to the 
bride and groom whose wedding it is! 



The Wedding Planned Well in Advance 


Set the wedding date (in consultation with members of both families 
in so far as is possible) . 

Consider possible types of weddings suitable to your situation and 
choose the kind of wedding you both and your families can agree would 
be best. 

Select the place for the wedding and reserve it for your date. 

Consult your minister, priest, or rabbi about your marriage and wed- 
ding plans. 

Make arrangements for the reception, reserving the date, determining 
in general the kind of food, who will prepare and serve it, and the num- 
ber of guests in round numbers. 

Choose your wedding attendants and invite them, specifying the defi- 
nite date and the type of wedding. 

Select the color scheme and general motif of the entire wedding, keep- 
ing in mind the season of the year, the type of wedding chosen, the 
budget, and your own preferences. 

Plan bride's wedding gown and accessories, and those for bridal at- 
tendants in keeping with your type of wedding, your over-all scheme, 
your budget, and whether the gowns will be handmade or purchased. 

Start a master list of persons to be invited to the wedding, including 
those suggested by you both and your families. Make a plan for thin- 
ning if the list becomes too long to be accommodated. Develop a system 
for checking duplicates. 


Order invitations from your stationer or engraver according to the 
model and the script desired. Order in round numbers in lots of fifty or 
one hundred, allowing more than the total of lists compiled to date. Cal- 
culate the percentage of acceptances you can reasonably expect, and so 
estimate the number of invitations it will be feasible to send. 

Arrange for announcements (to those not being invited to the wed- 
ding) according to the same plan of estimating numbers as for invita- 


Order informals for acknowledging your wedding gifts at this time if 
you prefer these to other simple suitable note paper. The number should 
approximate that of the size of the invitation list. 

Explore possibilities for where you will live, making whatever tentative 
arrangements are possible. If you are fortunate in having a definite place 
into which you will move, it is not too soon to plan for its furnishing and 
to start getting it in order. 


Bride goes to a good gynecologist for her premarital examination ac- 
cording to the suggestions outlined in Chapter Six. She follows through 
on his (or her) recommendations before the wedding, including a return 
for routine blood tests a week or two preceding the wedding date. 

Groom gets his complete premarital examination, making appointment 
for blood tests. 

Address the invitations in preparation for mailing three to four weeks 
before the wedding. The outside envelopes may be picked up before the 
engraving is finished if you wish. The envelopes are addressed in pen 
and ink in a legible hand by the bride with whatever help is offered by 
members of her family, the groom and perhaps members of his family. 
One bride made a party of it with both families gathered around the 
dining room table, address books at hand, following a pleasant informal 
meal in joint-family style. 

Decide on your honeymoon plans considering the special interests of 
you both and the function of the honeymoon (see Chapter Ten). Make 
advance reservations for accommodations and travel. 

Select "going away" outfits and trousseau, including appropriate acces- 

Check your luggage needs. 

Express interest in what both mothers will wear to the wedding, giving 
what suggestions and help seem to be indicated. 


Mail the wedding invitations (not the announcements, yet). First 
class postage is expected. Air mail is indicated only for relatives and 
friends in far distant places. 

Order the wedding cake and make final arrangements for the wedding 
breakfast and/or the reception. Estimate the number to be served with 
final figure promised as replies come in, just before the wedding (two or 
three days to a week is usual). 

Select the photographer and discuss with him what kinds of pictures 
you will want, and make definite appointments with him. 

Check on the legal requirements for marriage in your state. 

Arrange for out-of-town guests. 


Bride gets a permanent if she needs one, and makes appointments 
ahead for the day before the wedding, or at a time that seems best. 

Select and order your flowers for the wedding. 

Arrange for decorations needed for the wedding, the wedding break- 
fast, and the reception. 

Register your preferences at the wedding bureau of the store where 
your friends and family will most likely shop for your gifts. 

Plan for the way in which you will acknowledge your gifts as they ar- 
rive, and how they will be displayed. 


Final check with your doctors, routine blood tests preliminary to get- 
ting the license. 

Go together for your marriage license. 

Arrange transportation for the wedding party. 

Make final preparations for the rehearsal and for presenting gifts to the 
wedding party. The rehearsal is usually the day before the wedding. A 
simple party in connection with the rehearsal is an acceptable time for 
bestowing gifts upon members of the wedding party. Caution: Do not 
attempt too elaborate an affair the night before the wedding. You'll want 
to be rested and fresh then. 

Groom gets hair cut; bride gets hair done and whatever else that will 
make her feel lovely. 

Allow plenty of time for dressing and last minute details on your wed- 
ding day. 

The Wedding Planned on Short Notice 

Set the date and decide the type of wedding, clearing the time with 
the minister and both families. 

See your doctor(s) for a complete premarital examination and the blood 
tests required in your state. 

Make arrangements for what you both and the other members of the 
wedding party will wear. 

Write invitation notes and order announcements. 

Arrange for wedding cake, refreshments, flowers, and photographer. 

Get your marriage license. 

Keep calm, share the responsibilities, enjoy every minute of it ... it's 
your wedding! 


Wedding Costs 

Wedding costs fluctuate with the times. When prices are generally 
high, then everything used for the wedding costs more than when price 
levels are low. But even then, wedding costs vary tremendously. Your 
wedding may be as economical or as expensive as you make it. One 
study made by Professor B. F. Timmons * in 1937-38, when prices were 
generally low, reported the following actual wedding costs incurred by 
154 couples: 

COSTS $1.00-250. 25i.-5oo. 5oi.-75o. 75i.-iooo. 1000. and up 
CASES 63 51 22 6 12 

Even when price levels are high, a wedding does not need to be an 
extravagant item in your budget. The items that tend to make the 
wedding expensive are largely those having to do with "show." By 
choosing simple wedding costumes and decorations and keeping refresh- 
ments within line, a wedding may be very lovely and still of moderate 
cost. Or, if money is no object, an elaborate wedding can cost many 
thousands of dollars. 

According to convention wedding costs are assumed by both the 
bride and her family and the groom and his in the manner outlined 

Although this listing represents the general custom in the United 
States, it need not be interpreted rigidly. As in other aspects of wed- 
ding procedure it is well to know the traditional conventions so that 
you may know from what you depart when you plan your own wedding. 

The Bride or Her Family Pays for ... 

$ Wedding gown and veil 

$ Bride's personal trousseau 

$ Wedding reception, breakfast, or dinner 

$ Transportation to church and reception 

$ Wedding decorations and music 

$ Invitations and announcements 

$ Gifts for the groom and the bride's attendants 

i B. F. Timmons, "The Cost of Weddings/' American Sociological Review 
(April, 1939), pp. 224-233. 


The Groom or His Family Pays for ... 

$ Bride's bouquet and mothers' flowers 

$ Bride's "going away" corsage 

$ Wedding trip 

$ Wedding ring 

$ Minister's fee 

$ Marriage license 

$ Gifts for the bride, best man, and ushers 

The Marriage Ceremony 

Virtually all groups, primitive and civilized alike, have a special cere- 
mony marking the transition from the courtship to married life. In our 
own history we had for hundreds of years two ceremonies: the betrothal, 
which was a business arrangement between the families to take care of 
property arrangements, and the wedding ceremony, which came some- 
what later and carried the mark of finality. 

The wedding ceremony was originally performed by the father 
among the Hebrews, the Greeks, and the Romans; but as the early 
Christian church became powerful, the priest's blessing was added to 
the ceremony. As the church concerned itself more and more with 
marriage, witnesses were added, and all marriages were performed by the 
clergy. With the Reformation the Protestants came to regard marriage 
as a civil contract, and the state undertook the responsibility of super- 
vising the ceremony in Protestant countries. In Europe today it is not 
uncommon to be married by a civil court and then to repeat the cere- 
mony at a church wedding. In America we have delegated to the clergy 
the civil authority to perform marriages, giving them thereby both civil 
and religious sanction over marriage. 

The functions of the marriage ceremony today are: 

1 To impress on the couple and all relatives and friends the changed status 
of the pair, both legally and psychologically. 

2 To announce the new status; to give public support and stability to the re- 
lation emphasized by the titles Mr. and Mrs. and by the assumption of the 
husband's family name by the wife. 

3 To give legal protection to the wife and to the children born of the union: 
to place the responsibility for their care and support with the pair and not 
with the state. 

4 To glorify and sanctify the relation (religious marriage), giving it divine 
blessing and approval God approves. 


Wedding Services. Weddings in the many churches of the various 
faiths differ widely. Not only the procedures prescribed by the particu- 
lar church but the training and beliefs of the individual minister and 
the preferences of the couple play a part in determining the nature of 
the wedding ceremony. An occasional couple write a part of their own 
ceremony, incorporating their own convictions and commitment with 
the traditional vows. Some ministers have developed their own intro- 
ductory statements that precede the usual vows in the wedding cere- 
mony. The following is used by permission as illustrative. 

Address to the Congregation 

There is an ancient story which contains a profound insight: It is not 
good for man to be alone. We rightly approach a wedding ceremony with 
reverence and with awe. For marriage has welled up out of the depths of 
personal and social need. In it the fundamental impulses of the individual 
and the race, biological, personal and social, come to an overt focus. The 
ceremony itself is the public avowal of a new relationship, the most basic 
which can exist among men. It signifies that two people stand at one point 
along the unending stream of human development, a point at which count- 
less others have stood before and countless more will stand in ages which are 
to come. Yet it is for the human race, as for them, unique in the totality of 
timeless aeons. The centuries of the past have looked forward to this occa- 
sion. Those of the future should have good cause to regard it with respect 
and gratitude. 

It is meet and proper that so awe-inspiring an occasion, when Eternity 
emerges as a visible point in the present, should be celebrated with dignity 
and solemnity. All races, tribes and cultures, from the most primitive to 
the most advanced, have made of this step an occasion for rejoicing and an 
expression through ceremony and rite of profound social concern. So today, 
society expresses its legitimate and inescapable interest. For a wedding is 
more than the joining of two persons to each other. It is the closing of a 
link in the endless chain of human relationships, a link which binds the pres- 
ent to the past and out of which the future can most advantageously emerge. 

The wedding is properly a religious ceremony. For in marriage, basic 
forces which determine human destiny find their richest and most creative 
expression. The noblest sentiments and highest ideals of the human soul 
stand by In expectant concern for their future. The God who sustains all 
which is, ultimately presides. 

Address to the Couple 

For you, this ceremony will mean entrance into new relationships which 
will affect many aspects of your lives. Your legal status will be altered in 


important respects. The merger of names will symbolize an extensive change 
in your social status and relationships. Changed personal relationships, some 
of which may prove onerous, will remind you that things are no longer as 
they were. 

It will mean for you a new security in your personal lives. For marriage 
is an oasis of refreshment and renewal in an often arid world, a point of sta- 
bility amid the bewildering and often alarming changes of a rapidly shifting 
social scene. Your marriage will mean that each of you will have one whom 
you know and can respond to as a whole personality. In all the welter of 
mass humanity and whirling shifts of friendships, you can find stability. 
Marriage will mean for you that intimacy which is necessary for the best sat- 
isfaction of the deepest needs of your souls. You will find a new security in 
acceptance, a security which is freely yours without the need for pretense 
and dissimulation. For you there will always be one situation in which you 
can be as you really are, without risk of rejection. Marriage means in part, 
the weaving of a rope of relationships upon which each of you can put the 
full strain of your own worst, without fear that it will break. 

You will find a new security and richness of love. Among the greatest 
needs of all is a two-way flow of affection. Marriage will increase and en- 
rich this for you, unimpeded by conventions and unspoiled by fear of its 
loss. Such married love is above and beyond all other forms of human love. 
In it alone are intermingled the depth, intimacy, and permanence essential 
for your greatest satisfaction and growth. 

Your wedding means a recognition and acceptance of new social obliga- 
tions. To marry is to enter into partnership in a building enterprise. It 
means the construction of a social relationship which inevitably involves oth- 
ers. To marry is not only to establish a center of emotional security for 
yourselves. It is to create a basic unit of society. And in so doing you find 
your own greatest fulfillment. 

The vows which you are about to take pledge you to fidelity, one to the 
other. This does not merely mean fidelity to taboos, or even to a person. 
The man and woman who live together secure in each other's love are being 
faithful to far more than each other. They are being faithful to a social 
situation which can produce people who can live without fear, who are suf- 
ficiently mature emotionally as neither to seek nor to need dictatorship and 
aggression. They are being faithful to the basic foundations of the social 
structure in which all are formed and nourished. They are being faithful to 
the provisions which society makes for the protection and the development 
of the deepest needs of persons. When you marry you do far more than to 
take unto yourself a spouse. You take a piece of the social future into your 

Then follow the usual vows and prayers. 




(Just before) 

Usher escorts groom's parents to front pew right of center aisle 


Bride's mother is seated by usher at left of center aisle (signal for the 
wedding march to begin) 


Ushers two by two 
Bridesmaids two by two 
Maid or matron of honor 
Ring bearer if any 2 
Flower girl if any 2 
Bride on her father's right arm 

(Groom, best man, and minister stand at the altar, facing the pro- 

Recessional Bride on groom's right arm 

Flower girl alone or with the ring bearer 

Maid or matron of honor alone or with the best man s 

Bridesmaids two by two or paired with ushers 

Ushers two by two or with the bridesmaids 

As soon as the wedding party has gone out, two ushers return at once 

for mothers of the bride and groom 

The guests then depart 

Receiving Line Bride's mother 
(Left to right) Groom's father * 

Groom's mother 

Bride's father 



Maid or matron of honor 

Bridesmaids (if preferred they may mingle with the guests, as the 

ushers and the best man do) 

2 If children are in the wedding party, they should be rehearsed carefully once 
or twice before the ceremony, at the place of the wedding. 

3 The best man may go directly to the vestry for the groom's hat and coat, and 
his own, joining the wedding party at the door, if this seems more convenient in 
what comes next. 

4 The bride's father may stand beside his wife, then the groom's motjier and 
father, then the bride and groom. This more modern form keeps the principal cou- 
ples together and is sometimes more pleasant and graceful for the receiving line. 


Special Cases 

There are many special situations in which the usual forms and rules do 
not seem to apply. Let us consider just a few of them. 

Two Faiths Two Ceremonies. When members of two faiths marry, 
their wedding has to be worked out to meet the requirements of their 
respective churches as well as their personal preferences. If a Catholic 
is to have his or her marriage recognized by the Roman Catholic church, 
it must be performed by a Catholic priest according to the rules of the 
church. Some faithful Jews feel married only when it has been done 
by the rabbi. 

One Baptist bride called her pastor on the evening of her wedding 
day and begged him to "marry us again, for I just don't feel right being 
married only by his rabbi." This minister replied that it was hardly 
necessary to be married again, since they were already married, but that 
he would be willing to reaffirm their marriage and give it his blessing as 
a Christian clergyman. This pleased the bride, was satisfactory to the 
groom, and violated nothing in cither's religion. 

Some couples marrying across religious faiths, plan for such a dual- 
wedding service in which all members of both families as well as the 
dictates of both churches will be satisfied. It seems hardly necessary to 
remind you that such things are best discussed and agreed upon early in 
the relationship, with plans laid well in advance so that all concerned 
know what to expect. 

Double Weddings. Two couples (usually sisters or brothers) may 
marry without other attendants, each serving as the other's witnesses. 
Or the double wedding may have all the pomp and splendor of the 
huge church wedding, times two! In the latter case, the older bride and 
her attendants enter first, then the younger bride and her attendants, 
with the recessional in the same formation with each couple leading its 
own bridal party. If the brides are sisters, one invitation may be issued 
for their double wedding, in which case the older sister's name appears 

Divorce, a Complicating Factor. If the bride's parents are divorced, 
the invitations may be issued by her mother, with her present husband 
as host, if she has remarried. In this case, the bride's father may give 
her away if she wishes, after which he steps back to the pew behind her 


mother. Whether or not he remains for the reception is best decided 
by discussion well ahead of time. Except in most unusual cases, the ab- 
sent parent is invited to the wedding, and members of the family behave 
without bitterness toward each other. 

The mature bride whose parents are divorced may issue her own in- 
vitations and announcements and walk down the aisle either alone, or 
on the arm of a favorite uncle or other older male relative. 

Similarly, if the bride is herself a divorcee, she may issue her own 
invitations, and the couple may announce their own marriage. If the 
bride is a very young divorcee, her parents may announce her marriage 
as usual. The remarriage of a divorced woman is usually not formal, or 
in a white gown and veil. It may be held in a chapel, home, or garden, 
with one attendant (not a child by a former marriage). 

Orphaned and Widowed Brides. The bride who is an orphan may 
have a formal wedding if she wishes, by asking some older woman to be 
her sponsor, and walking down the aisle on the arm of some favorite 
older male relative or close family friend. 

The remarriage of a widow is usually simple and informal, and not 
in white wedding gown and veil, which is the symbol of first marriage. 
Her own children may attend her if she wishes. She may write personal 
notes as invitations and announcements, using her full name. 

Sickness and Death in Wedding Plans. An invalid mother, grand- 
mother, or sister may attend even a formal church wedding in a wheel 
chair, or the wedding may be planned at home where she is. Bride, 
groom, or any of the bridal attendants may participate in any wedding 
in a wheel chair or on crutches if need be. In the case of a close mem- 
ber of the family being suddenly stricken ill just before the wedding, the 
ceremony may be postponed by notifying the guests by wire, phone, or 

When one of the parents of bride or groom dies suddenly, the wed- 
ding usually is postponed with some such wording as this: "Owing to 
the sudden death of Mrs. John James Jones, the marriage of her daugh- 
ter Janice to Gerald Raymond Brown has been indefinitely postponed." 
This notice may be sent to the local papers, and to all guests already 
invited to the wedding. The marriage may proceed on the date planned 
but then it is a simple quiet wedding with only members of the imme- 
diate family present. 


Broken Engagements. It is not only in Hollywood that something 
breaks up a couple before the wedding date; it happens in real life too. 
In such a case, there are two things to do at once: i. cancel the wed- 
ding; and 2. return to the senders all wedding gifts. Guests already 
invited to the wedding must be notified that the wedding plans have 
been cancelled, whether or not they have sent gifts to the bride. 
Couples feeling embarrassed about cancelling their wedding should re- 
member that it is far better to call off an unpromising marriage before 
it gets started than it is to carry each other into the anguish of an un- 
happy union. One of the functions of the engagement period is to sort 
out incompatible pairs. 5 It may take the wise guidance of a competent 
counselor to help the couple discover whether the break originates from 
something simple and superficial, or whether it stands for something 
basically wrong in the match. 

Moving up the Date. In these days when so many things may happen 
to change things, it is sometimes necessary to advance the date of the 
wedding. A military leave is granted earlier than expected, a vacation 
date is advanced, an opportunity opens up, all sorts of things may call 
for an earlier date than the one originally planned. The procedure for 
meeting this type of case is simply to contact the guests and tell them 
where and when the rearranged wedding is to be. A simple wedding 
can be arranged at the last minute in the chapel at the military post, in 
the bride's home, in a club or garden, or even after one of the regular 
services of the church, if the couple are flexible in their planning. In- 
deed, this might serve as a motto for wedding plans generally: "Be Pre- 
pared for the Unexpected." 

To be useful wedding plans should be based upon the values of 
those being married. If you realize that tradition has been upset many 
times, and that conventions serve but as guides, you can plan your wed- 
ding in ways that will be most meaningful to you and to those whom 
you love and want close to you on this your day of days. 

6 See Chapter Five, "The Meaning of an Engagement." 

Selected Readings 

BENTLEY, MARGUERITE, Wedding Etiquette Complete (Philadelphia: Win- 

BOSSARD, JAMES H. s., AND BOLL, ELEANOR s., Ritual in Family Living (Phila- 
delphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1950). 


BOWMAN, HENRY A., Marriage for Moderns (New York: Whittlesey House, 
1948), Chap. 9. 

BRIDE'S MAGAZINE, The Bride's Book of Etiquette 


FENWICK, MILLICENT, Vogue's Book of Etiquette (New York: Simon and 
Schuster, 1948). 

GROVES, ERNEST R., Marriage (New York: Holt, revised, 1948), Chap. 11. 

LEACH, WILLIAM H., ED., The Cokesbury Marriage Manual (Nashville, Ten- 
nessee: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1939). 

MARSHALL FIELD AND COMPANY, The Bride' s Book (Chicago: Marshall Field, 

MCLEOD, EDYTH THORNTON, The Bride's Book (New York: Archway Press, 

1 947)- 
Modern Bride, magazine published by Ziff-Davis Company, 185 North Wa- 

bash Ave., Chicago i, 111. 
POST, EMILY, Emily Post's Etiquette (New York: Funk and Wagnalls, recent 


TIMMONS, B. F., "The Cost of Weddings," American Sociological Review 

(April, 1939), pp. 224-233. 

Vogue, "Invitation to the Wedding/' Vol. LXXIX, No. 9, p. 84. 
WOODS, MARJORIE BiNFORD, Your Wedding: How to Plan and Enjoy It (New 

York: Bobbs-Merrill, new revised edition, 1949). 
WRIGHT, JEANNE, The Wedding Book (New York: Rinehart, 1947). 









For Better, for Worse 


What type of honeymoon is best? 

Are all the honeymoon intimacies easy to take? 

Why do people talk about "settling down" as if it were so important? 

Does marriage really make you different? 
Is it true that unless you watch out love dies soon after you get married? 


ing courtship and engagement has now been publicly recognized and 
ceremonialized. Now at last the roles of husband and wife which have 
been played in fantasy many times may be tried out. Once married, 
the man and the woman start on a journey from which it is difficult to 
turn back. In the chapters which follow our discussion will throw some 
light on the situations couples face in marriage, the skills and abilities 
needed, and the normality of trouble and frustration as a new family is 
launched into operation. Key ideas which merit attention include the 

1 Marriage is a more complex way of living than single life and therefore is 
likely to aggravate rather than cure symptoms of immaturity such as res- 
tiveness, uncertainty, and unhappiness. 

2 A key need of early marriage is to settle down and work out the routines 
of daily living. 

3 As romantic love is replaced by conjugal love, the marriage becomes sta- 

4 Conflict in marriage is normal and may be used constructively to hold the 
partnership together. 


5 Happily married couples, in adult terms, are not necessarily couples who 
never quarrel but are those who have learned the techniques of resolving 
conflicts which arise. 

6 Keeping the channels of communication clear is important for marriage 

The Honeymoon 

In the early weeks of marriage young people are perhaps more impres- 
sionable than at any other time in their lives. Hope and expectation are 
keyed to concert pitch. Idealism is at its height. The newly married 
individuals continue the pattern of the engagement in ever increasing 
tempo, the pattern of widening the range of their mutual exploration of 
one another's personalities. These processes parallel, some will say over- 
lay, deep anxieties about the undefined future and the realization that 
this relationship which is so precious has the capacity to hurt: All these 
conditions can bring about a delicately balanced state of the emotions 
in which small embarrassments are capable of having a devastating 

David Mace 1 expresses the situation well: 

From one point of view, getting married could be represented as a rather 
terrifying experience. For something like a third of their life span two peo- 
ple have lived independent of each other probably without even knowing 
of each other's existence. They have formed their own personal habits and 
learned to live their own private lives. Now, after a comparatively short ac- 
quaintance, they come together in the closest human intimacy, living to- 
gether, sleeping together, yielding themselves up to each other. At the time, 
they don't think of this as an invasion of their privacy. Their strong desire 
for each other draws them together and they make their surrender eagerly. 
But for all that, the mutual unveiling of their bodies and minds can some- 
times have profoundly disturbing and quite unexpected consequences. . . . 
To make these early adjustments as easy as possible we have wisely provided 
the institution of the honeymoon. 

Full of excitement, thrills, and anticipation of delightful intimacies, 
the honeymoon is a continuation of the period of bliss characteristic of 
the engagement period. Two sources of emotion flow over in most mar- 
riages during the first weeks, the growing pleasures of the sex experi- 

1 David R. Mace, Marriage: The Art of Lasting Love (New York: Doubleday, 
19 52), pp. 46-47. 


ences and the fears of the unknown and undefined future of the mar- 
riage. These are major components of romantic love. Indeed, the 
honeymoon marks the crest of the feelings identified as romantic love 
feelings. Thereafter the fear element, which has its source in the ap- 
prehension of the unknown and unpredictable problems of marriage, 
subsides unless activated by extramarital thrill-seeking or a new love af- 
fair. Romantic love feeds on the new and the unknown. As marriage 
settles down to a walking gait, romantic love is normally exchanged for 
a less exciting but more permanent combination of love feelings based 
on companionship and mutual interdependence, identified elsewhere as 
conjugal love. 2 

Conjugal love first appears in the companionable phase of the en- 
gagement relation and develops greatly during the early months of mar- 
riage. During the honeymoon the couple pick up souvenirs and buy 
furniture, which are quickly given a sentimental value. The snapshots 
of the honeymoon trip and the trails taken together are often reviewed. 
Thus the memories of the honeymoon make up some of the first tangi- 
ble evidences of the conjugal love on which enduring marriages are 

Planning the Honeymoon. The wedding journey is designed to meet 
specific needs and should not be postponed for several weeks or months 
until, for example, the bridegroom gets his vacation. The value of the 
honeymoon lies in the opportunities it gives the newlyweds to meet the 
first experiences of marriage away from people who know them, thus 
providing them a little time to get over the self-consciousness which 
comes with playing new and untried roles. Point number one in plan- 
ning, then, is to set the wedding date at a time when a honeymoon is 

Although the plans for the honeymoon are for the most part jointly 
laid, the exact dates for the wedding and wedding journey are rightly set 
by the bride. The timing of the menstrual period and the irregularities 
which often accompany emotional stress are factors which need to re- 
ceive attention in launching the marriage. 

The engaged couple can add enjoyment to their first days of mar- 
riage if they depart from the trite honeymoon tours to Niagara Falls and 
Washington in favor of a trip which characterizes the individuality of 

2 See Chap. 15, "What Holds a Marriage Together." 


their relationship. One couple who had met in Europe on a hosteling 
tour planned a similar tour by bicycle through New England. Another 
made their common passion for bird life the center of their plans for a 
week's outing at a bird sanctuary neither had visited before. A third 
couple spent most of their time in New York attending plays and operas 
when they weren't catching up on their sleep at a bohemian apartment 
off Washington Square. In this business of planning, the couple needs 
to realize that one man's meat may be another man's poison. A trout 
stream in the Rockies is no place for a couple of tenderfeet, the adver- 
tisement of the travel associations to the contrary. Life on a dude 
ranch can be very irritating if the couple doesn't know its cattle ponies. 
Point number two is to plan to do something on the honeymoon which 
both enjoy and can do reasonably well. There will be other occasions 
for the new and unusual when both parties are surer of themselves and 
are under less emotional tension. 

The hazards to be avoided by the honeymooners are excessive costs 
and overfatigue. If the engagement has been one of planning and dis- 
cussion, the honeymoon costs will have been worked out along with the 
budget of the first year's expenses. Placed in juxtaposition to the other 
costs of the year, the honeymoon will usually be estimated at a reason- 
able figure. Some estimate of the number of miles to be traveled and 
the number of things to be seen and done needs to be made. Trying to 
do too much in too little time will result in overfatigue and set the stage 
for quarrels when the couple is least able to cope with them. 

Suppose we list a few do's and don'ts which might be reviewed by 
the couple anticipating marriage and a satisfying honeymoon: 

1 Select a place where you can be completely alone and away from people 
who know you, and where privacy is assured. 

2 Plan your trip to obviate overfatigue as much as possible. 

3 Arrange for hotel or room reservations in advance. 

4 Plan for time to loaf and sleep newly married couples go to bed early 
and get up late. 

5 Carry on with the planning and exploration talks of the engagement, dis- 
cussing points on which you aren't able to find a basis for agreement as 
well as those on which you are. 

Excitement of the Wedding Journey. The honeymoon customarily lasts 
a week or two and for obvious economic reasons rarely extends beyond 


a month. The wedding journey is an excellent introduction into mar- 
riage, providing as it does for a release of the tension which has piled 
up in the days before the wedding and for the maximum expression of 
idealism. The honeymoon also provides a point at which realities are 
allowed to intrude, as the pair prepares to return to familiar surround- 
ings and mundane responsibilities. Fortunately the period of ecstasy 
does not continue long, for moving from one thrill and discovery to an- 
other is exhausting. 

The adjustment in the first years is sometimes most difficult for those 
couples who have restricted their love activities too prudishly in the 
courtship and engagement period. They find themselves suddenly in 
marriage with all the barriers down and with all too little preparation 
for the expression of the excitement and attraction which arise in the 
intimacies. It is not uncommon for one or both parties to experience 
feelings of guilt or revulsion, to the mutual distress of both parties. For 
other couples who have anticipated great thrills in the first sex relations, 
there is sometimes disappointment reality doesn't live up to the ex- 
pectations. Said one such couple, "We were surprised that that was all 
there was to it; somehow we had expected more." The girl felt cheated, 
and the boy was hurt and worried that his wife wasn't thrilled. Both 
needed to realize that enjoyable sex response is a matter of learning, and 
that it grows with the years. They failed to grasp the fact that early 
sex relations are necessarily awkward, both because of their newness and 
because of the anxiety both feel toward the unknown. Where fear is 
present sex response is inhibited, and only after the couple have become 
thoroughly secure in their new role of husband and wife, of Mr. and 
Mrs., can they expect to attain the heights which the uninformed honey- 
mooners feel is their right the first night. 8 

The honeymoon intimacies are taken almost as a matter of course by 
the couples who are able to recognize the sexual urges and expressions 
for what they are. They have studied what to expect, and after a cer- 
tain amount of normal love play in the engagement period, the honey- 
moon presents to them an extended period of easily assimilated new ex- 

3 See Chap. 15, "What Holds a Marriage Together." In Stanley Brav's in- 
triguing study of honeymoons nearly half of his respondents reported that they failed 
to achieve complete sexual harmony during their honeymoon, yet the majority con- 
sidered their honeymoon a complete success. Sexual harmony was not considered 
essential to honeymoon success. See Stanley Brav, "Note on Honeymoons," Marriage 
and Family Living, Vol. 9 (Summer, 1947), p. 60. 


periences. They are able to recognize and understand their own urges 
and make the most of them. 

A fourth group of young people "make the most" of the honeymoon 
experiences, because they feel that the intoxication of early marriage is 
the most desirable part of marriage, that marriage should be one con- 
tinual courtship in which love is kept aglow with constant thrills. This 
is the school which reflects most closely the Hollywood pattern of per- 
petual romance and which judges a marriage by the continuation of the 
burning thrills of love. If the love-light dies, a divorce ensues; and the 
light burns again only as new love appears, followed by another honey- 
moon, another trip to Reno, another honeymoon, and so on. These 
people take their fiction and movies too seriously and apparently know 
little or nothing about the studies of happily married men and women. 
Although the great majority settle down in time to more or less routine 
married living, there is usually an intervening period of disillusionment 
before they hit a normal stride. For these young people the psychiatrists 
would list coming to terms with reality as the most important single ac- 
complishment of the first year of marriage. 

Establishing an Etiquette of Intimacy 

Still another area of interpersonal adjustment which the honeymoon 
makes possible involves the intimacies of personal hygiene. The early 
days of marriage could be greatly eased if young couples received more 
help about these matters, at least as much as about the intimacies of 
sex. They would be spared a good deal of distress if, as well as prepar- 
ing themselves for sexual union, they recognized also the fact that in 
close intimacy of marriage men and women must learn a warm tender 
consideration for the little details of bodily hygiene which are part of 
the business of living. David Mace has pointed out that in the course 
of married life there are many lowly services which husband and wife 
must perform for each other. One of the important adjustments which 
must be made in the early weeks together is to get over any false 
modesty which the couple may feel about their own or each other's 
bodies. 4 

Why should couples, in this day and age of frankness and freedom 
of inhibitions about sex, find the intimacies of sensory details connected 

* David Mace, op. cit., p. 50. 


with other bodily functions fraught with embarrassment and disgust 
reactions? The answer may not be obvious. 

In America, the land of locked bathrooms and fully clothed people, 
of private bedrooms and dressing quarters, the child is often reared to 
adulthood carefully protected from the sensory details of the bodily 
functions of others. He is taught to disguise his intention of going to 
the toilet by asking if he may wash his hands. Girl children particularly 
are protected from vulgarity, as Americans define it. Added to and ac- 
centuating the problem is the universal tendency in the courtship and 
engagement period to idealize the other person, to endow the person 
with qualities of saintliness, and to shrink from the thought that the 
other person carries on the same bodily functions as common folk. 
While still holding these ideas, the carefully protected boy and girl 
marry and face for the first time the details of married living, with the 
doors of privacy torn off. The imaginary picture of the other person 
was nobler and kinder. The sensory details overwhelm the sensitive, 
sheltered girl and all too often produce reactions of disgust and re- 

Too much intimacy, too little privacy, in too short a period! Be- 
cause of the way we have been reared, we must preserve some of the illu- 
sions for a time, at least. A minimum of privacy will need to be main- 
tained indefinitely, just because Americans react to bodily functions of 
urination and excretion the way they do. This is difficult in over- 
crowded apartments with no private dressing quarters and with shared 
bathrooms, but every effort should be made to ease the transition grace- 
fully from the more spacious parental home with its privacy to the more 
restricted accompaniments of married life. The informed couple will 
meet the challenge. 5 

Disillusionment and Settling Down 

Disillusionment sounds like an ugly word, but it means, simply, "facing 
realities." G. V. Hamilton's study of two hundred married persons, 
A Research in Marriage, showed the illusions of the engagement and 
honeymoon period to have lasted well into the second year of marriage 
for most of his cases. Twenty-nine per cent stated that they had settled 

5 A searching analysis of the reactions of Americans to lack of privacy is given 
in Markoosha Fisfier's My Lives in Russia (New York: Harper, 1944), pp. 59-76. 


down to facing realities after one year, and 20 per cent after two years. 
The balance didn't know how long it took them to complete the process 
of disillusionment. Many couples claim to have had no difficulty in 
settling down after returning from the honeymoon, stating variously, 
"The process developed naturally," "We didn't expect marriage to be so 
very different and it wasn't," "It was a relief to find marriage so livable 
after all the ghastly accounts of divorce and separation," "We just kept 
on being good pals instead of going dramatic during the honeymoon, 
and we couldn't see anything to be disillusioned about." These couples 
started their period of disillusionment by facing realities in the court- 
ship and engagement period, as their statements reveal, and made the 
transition into marriage with a minimum of anxiety. 

Walking is the best gait for most people, but most honeymooners 
hit a tempo more akin to a gallop in the series of thrills sought and ex- 
perienced. The change of pace which must come is called "settling 
down," and is a phase of disillusionment. Disillusionment includes not 
only the removal of blinders which have kept the lover from seeing the 
wart on the chin of the loved one, but also the mutual discovery that 
marriage doesn't change personalities. "We are still our old familiar, 
boring selves, and we thought we would be different when married. It 
looked as if we could change when we were engaged and on the honey- 
moon, but now. . . ." 

Disillusionment is partly due to the discrepancy between what we 
have imagined marriage to be like, or been told it was like, or read it 
was like, and what we find it to be. Notice the discrepancy between the 
following stereotyped picture of the couple who lived happily ever after 
and the facts. It is the case of Mary Jane and Jim who were married 
and settled down in a cute little house with checked curtains at the 
windows. They are supposed to have had three years of happy married 
life, writes our ad writer for marriage: 

Mary Jane, in a crisp house dress kept spotless and unfaded by Lux, has 
laid out breakfast everything Beechnut but the eggs. Jim Junior is busily 
eating up his cereal for the fun of finding the Mickey Mouse at the bottom 
of the dish, thoughtfully supplied by the makers of Cream of Wheat. Jim 
Senior, spruce in an Arrow collar and fortified by a perfect night's rest under 
the auspices of the Simmons Bedding Company, is about to make his way 
to the office to earn the thirty-five dollars a week which somehow are to pay 
for the hundred-dollar radio, the Monel metal kitchen, the dapper little car, 
and the self-satisfied look that comes to those who have provided nicely for 


retirement at fifty-five. This intimate view of American home life is fa- 
miliar to us all through the kindness of advertising mediums of every variety 
and haunting ubiquity. We are fortunate because without their aid we 
should never see such a pretty picture. 

Let us peek in again without the rosy spectacles supplied by the nation- 
ally advertised brands. Mary Jane's frock for mornings at home looks a 
little frayed and faded. Her apron has definitely seen neither Lux nor a 
harsh washing soap for several days. She scrapes dispiritedly at the break- 
fast plates, slightly repulsive with congealed egg yolk and slimy cold bacon 
grease. For the fourteenth time she exhorts Junior to stop dawdling and eat 
his cereal. She is not, at the moment, enjoying her marriage very much. 
Why should she? Washing dishes day in and day out is not the same thing 
as canoeing in the moonlight with your heart's beloved. . . . Mary Jane is 
remembering five o'clock with Jim waiting at the corner, of dinner with 
dancing, of going to the movies, or a concert, or the theatre, or just a long 
ferry-boat ride. Of the difficult good-night kiss and the ecstatic knowledge 
that soon she would have Jim all the time for always. She is thinking 
rather wryly of how entrancing, how full of promise, this battered dishpan 
looked when it first emerged from pink tissue paper at the shower the girls 
gave her. She may even think, a little cynically, as she surveys the grey 
grease pocked surface of her dishwater, of the foaming pans of eternally vir- 
gin suds she expected from her perusal of the advertisements. Well, she's 
married now. She has her own house, her own dishpan, her husband, and 
her baby. All the time and for always. She doesn't even go to the movies 
any more because there is no one to stay with Junior. She speaks so crossly 
to the child now that his tears fall into the objectionable cereal. Why on 
earth won't Jim let her get Mrs. Oldacre in to stay evenings? He'll be earn- 
ing more soon; Mr. Bayswater practically told him he would be put in charge 
of the branch office as soon as old Fuzzy retired. Five dollars a week sav- 
ings much good that does anyway. Mary Jane's thoughts about her hus- 
band become quite uncharitable. "If he only had the least understanding 
of the kind of life I have, but all he notices is Junior's shoes are scuffed out 
and he would not even try that Bavarian cream I fixed yesterday. It's all 
very well for him to think Jimmy Junior's cute when he sneaks out of bed 
he doesn't have him all day and all night and nothing but Jimmy Junior." 

Thus Mary Jane at nine o'clock of a Monday morning. At three P.M. 
the sight of Junior tugging a large packing box about the yard suddenly 
makes her heart turn over with delight and pride. What a duck he is. ... 
She smiles all to herself with pleasure at the sunlight falling through the 
peach curtains on the blues and browns of her livingroom furniture. That 
recipe for apple pan dowdy she'll try that for supper. Jim will be home 
in two hours and a half, home for a whole lovely evening. And Monday is 
Philadelphia orchestra night on the radio. For no reason at all life is abruptly 
good, very good. 

Jim, meantime, is having his own problems, big and little. Mary Jane is 


a frequent pain in the neck to him. He likes his eggs with the whites firm 
and the yolks runny. Mary Jane gets them wrong every time sometimes 
leathery, sometimes slimy. Why does she have to be so cranky with Junior, 
and why can't she keep him quiet mornings? She should know a man needs 
all the rest he can get. He has to give his best to the job marriage is too 
expensive to loaf or to be tired. Mary doesn't understand that at all. He 
gave up his big chance in the Texas branch just for her, didn't he. But does 
she appreciate it? And yet Jim, too, has his hours of excitement and delight, 
of deep satisfaction in his wife and his son and his home and himself in the 
role of father in the family. 6 

How do you react to this latter view of marriage? It is more accu- 
rate than the version thrust upon us by the advertisers, but it is still only 
the top layer, the part we see, the common-sense interpretation of sat- 
isfactions and discords in the lives of Mary Jane and Jim. The roots of 
conflict lie much deeper in the personalities of sparring partners. 

If the discrepancy between what you imagined marriage would be 
like and what it is in reality is as great as that presented above, don't 
feel marriage has cheated you. The first step toward permanent and 
satisfying marriage is disillusionment, the willingness to accept one's self 
and one's partner on the level of everyday living, to take the worse 
along with the better. 

It should be pointed out that well-adjusted couples will recognize 
moments of rapture and the moments of disappointment, as well as 
the strong undercurrent of partnership in the run-of-the-mine emotions 
of daily life. The role of moods is important, some days we're up, some 
days down, some days romantic and some days realistic. Disillusion- 
ment, although primarily concerned with facing realities, includes find- 
ing a place for the delightful moments of the happier mood. 

Setting up Housekeeping 

In a play of recent years called 3 Is a Family, the young mother breaks 
down and weeps after her exasperated husband has criticized her ineffi- 
ciency and mistakes in keeping the house straightened up, and her fail- 
ures with the baby. "You must have patience with me; I know I'm in- 
efficient, but you see, I've never been a mother before." The job was 
too big for her to handle all at once. She knew she was in a mess but 
6 Reprinted from The Happy Family by John Levy and Ruth Munroe, by pe* 
mission of and special arrangement with Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. 



"Remember! You said you loved me . . ." 

was powerless to climb out of it. New jobs are like that, and marriage 
with its new household tasks takes some experience and planning. 

Or take the poor bride in the cartoon on this page. Obviously, she 
did not manage her time correctly. She probably slept too late, took 
too long to get the groceries, left the chicken too long while she went 
to the store. She is counting on love to get her by! "If he loves me he 
will forgive and forget." If he is impatient and cross, she will claim he 
doesn't love her. But in a marriage based on companionship and con- 
jugal love, the girl might say, "How would you like to pitch in and help 
me clean up? This job of being a wife is more difficult than I thought 
and kiss me, dear, first!" 

Both parties in a new marriage face adjustments to a level of living 
less well ordered and substantial than existed in the parental family. 
After all, it took their parents twenty to thirty years to provide their 
home with all its facilities and to organize their routines so faultlessly. 
The new husband may obtain an understanding of his wife's problems 
if he pitches in to help with the meal, setting the table and washing up 
the dishes afterward as well he should. The new wife needs to realize 
she can't follow the same budget for her personal expenditures that she 
could under her father's high salary, and she should thank her lucky 


stars she has a wardrobe built up which will hold her over the first few 
years. These are only a few of the adjustments which occur in the shift 
from parental family living to the life of newlyweds. 

Out of the clinical studies by psychiatrists of hundreds of housewives 
come these findings of value for new husbands: Personalities which re- 
quire order, which require that a house be neat and spotless, that every 
chair have a special place and all clothes be put away, in other words, 
personalities which make wonderful housekeepers rarely make adaptable, 
understanding, patient wives. Rarely can a wife be both a perfect 
housekeeper and an understanding, flexible companion. The husband 
may get a not-so-good housekeeper who won't worry and fuss about 
him and the children. But the compulsion to keep order which makes 
for perfection in household management is incompatible with normal 
rough and tumble married living. Take your choice! A man may en- 
joy keeping things "shipshape" while on duty, but at home who wants 
to live under the eagle eye of an inspecting admiral? 

Major Accomplishments of the First Year of Marriage 

Courtship, engagement, and marriage can merge imperceptibly without 
jarring adjustments. A student's letter to one of the authors shows how 
normally and easily he and his wife achieved this merger: 

I didn't learn much about family in my first month of marriage, but I did 
learn a great deal about marriage. We moved into our own house, budgeted 
our time and expenditures; we consulted a physician about birth control 
methods and got a very good start on our adjustment to the new roles we 
had assumed. Nobody told us a great deal about how to manage our affairs 
and it seemed to come natural to us. ... I am very happily married; I 
have a wonderful wife and mother for my children and two of the swellest, 
healthiest, most perfect kids that anybody could ask for. 

If all marriages developed as naturally and normally as Bob's and 
Myrtle's above, there would be much less justification for formal edu- 
cation in marriage and family life. These young people changed the 
company they were frequenting and took on the roles and responsibili- 
ties of the new relation, just as they might shift tempo and dance steps 
on the dance floor. Ordinarily a person has to learn the steps in a new 
dance, but if he has watched carefully and is supple enough he can imi- 
tate the new step satisfactorily. In more stable communities young 


people have known each other since school days, and at maturity may 
slip quickly into the more intensified relationships of courtship and en- 
gagement with a pretty clear idea of the reactions they may expect from 
each other. They assume the responsibilities of marriage relatively eas- 
ily because the examples of successfully married people are constantly 
before them. Married people, moreover, are available to check with as 
the marriage progresses. 

In our discussion in this chapter we have blazed a trail for couples 
who do not have models of marriage so clearly accessible. The story 
tells of certain minimum expectations for couples in the first year of 
marriage. They have carried over into the honeymoon and first months 
of marriage the fascinating pattern of exploration and experimentation 
started in the engagement. They have learned how to live intimately 
together and may have achieved a satisfying sexual relationship. They 
have come to accept the realities of marriage with its routines and 
schedules and unromantic regularity. Romantic thrills are giving way 
to more companionable sentiments. 

Our newlyweds have come to think of themselves as belonging to 
the married set and now feel comfortable in the roles of husband and 
wife, both at home and elsewhere. They are winning a status in the 
community as married folk and will soon be inducted into the circles of 
gardeners, marketing specialists, and canning artists. Some people may 
already have begun talking about the advantages of "having your babies 
while you are young." 

Although there have been many quarrels and conflicts during the 
first year, the differences are being ironed out, and the friction has worn 
smooth the edges which seemed so easily irritated the first few months. 
The pair still has its differences but has come to know that quarreling 
is no longer any threat to its relationship, which in itself is a major ac- 
complishment. Our new husband and wife have come to accept mar- 
ried life with its ups and downs and are prepared now to take the worse 
along with the better. The first year of marriage has been stimulating 
and satisfying. For the couple who worried about the pitfalls of mar- 
riage it is reassuring to know that marriage is sometimes full of fun! 

Selected Readings 

CHRISTENSEN, HAROLD T., Marriage Andtysis (New York: Ronald Press, 
1950), Chap. 10, "Mate Adjustment." 


HIMES, NORMAN s., Your Marriage: A Guide to Happiness (New York: 
Farrar and Rinehart, 1940), Chap. 11, 'The Wedding and the Honey- 

LANDIS, JUDSON T., AND LANDis, MARY, Building a Successful Marriage (New 
York: Prentice-Hall, 1948), Chap. 10, "Achieving Adjustment in Mar- 

LEVY, JOHN, AND MUNROE, RUTH, The Happy Family (New York: Knopf, 
1938), Chap. 2, "Settling Down to Marriage." 

MACE, DAVID, For Those Who Wear the Altar-Halter (New York: Woman's 
Home Companion, 1949), essay on the early weeks of marriage. 

MAGOUN, F. ALEXANDER, Love and Marriage (New York: Harper, 1948), 
Chap. 2, "The Nature of Marriage." 

MERRILL, FRANCIS E., Courtship and Marriage (New York: Sloane, 1949), 
chaps. 7, 13. 

SKIDMORE, REX A., AND CANNON, ANTHON s., Building Your Marriage (New 
York: Harper, 1951), Chap. 13, "The Wedding and the Honeymoon." 

TRAVIS, LEE E., AND BARUCH, DOROTHY w., Personal Problems of Everyday 
Life (New York: Appleton-Century, 1941), Chap. 9. 

WALLER, WILLARD, AND HILL, REUBEN, The Family: A Dynamic Interpreta- 
tion (New York: Dryden Press, 1951), Chap. 13, "Married-Pair Living." 

Technical References 

BRAV, STANLEY, "Note on Honeymoons," Marriage and Family Living, 
Vol. 9 (Summer, 1947), p. 60. 

COTTRELL, LEONARD s., JR., "Roles and Marital Adjustment," Publications 
of the American Sociological Society, Vol. 27 (1933), pp. 107-115. 

SLATER, ELIOT, AND wooDSiDE, MOYA, Patterns of Marriage: A Study of Mar- 
riage Relationships in the Urban Working Classes (London: Cassell and 
Company, 1951), Chap. 9. 

TRUXAL, ANDREW G., AND MERRILL, FRANCIS E., The Family in American Cul- 
ture (New York: Prentice-Hall, 1947), Chap. 21. 

WINCH, ROBERT F., The Modern Family (New York: Holt, 1952), chaps. 


Where Does the Money Go? 


How much money does it take to get married? 

Do budgets have to cramp your style? 

How about wives working? 

Is insurance a must? 

Does it take brains to shop? 

Is it easy to borrow money? 

How can you keep out of debt? 


have good incomes, cannot manage their personal finances successfully. 
Joe Bank who was earning $100 a week can hardly be regarded as a 
charity case. Neither was he dishonest. Yet he was in serious financial 
difficulties. He owed over $1000 and was getting deeper into debt all 
the time; yet he had had no unusual expenses, such as operations or ill- 
nesses. He was not now borrowing from a loan company. He had bor- 
rowed several times before, only to find his troubles increased. In des- 
peration he admitted his own inability to get out by himself, and had 
gone for help to a company whose job it was to help people get out on 
their own power. There are many thousands like him: people who earn 
enough to live comfortably and well, but somehow cannot seem to 
make ends meet. The purpose of this chapter is to help, not only those 
in financial difficulties, but all who would like to live better on the in- 
comes they have. 



Can We Afford to Marry? 

What income should we have before we marry? How much should we 
have in the bank? If we marry, will we be able to afford it? The only 
proper answer to this is that it depends upon how much you demand. 
The 1950 census tells us what families actually did have to live on as of 
1949. Almost a fourth of all American families (22.9%) had incomes 
of less than $1000 a year. Less than half (43.2%) had as much as 
$3000. About 16 per cent had as much as $5000, 6 per cent had over 
$7000 and 2.4 per cent over $io,ooo. 1 Rising costs, as indicated in the 
chart below, add still further to the economic difficulties of families. 
Obviously most families will never have anything like the incomes which 
some people regard as necessary to support a family. 

The question "Can we afford to marry?" then, must depend largely 
^upon the prospective bride and groom for its answer. A discussion of 
the following questions may help in providing such an answer: How 
much income are you both accustomed to? Could you get along hap- 
pily on less if necessary? What are your present and immediate respon- 


In 1949, $1.00 bought only as much as 59 cents in 1939 
Consumer price index 
(1935--39 - 100) 






1930 1935 1940 1945 

From Children and Youth at the Midcentury A Chart Book, Health Publications Institute, Inc., 
Raleigh, North Carolina. 

1 U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1950. 


sibilities for the support of relatives? (Do not include the support 
which you may later be called upon to give to parents who may remain 
self-supporting for many years.) 

In estimating your probable costs after marriage, figure that two can 
live as cheaply as two. What is it now costing both of you to live? If 
the prospective wife is living with her parents, estimate the money value 
of what she is now receiving from her family, such as room, board, 
medical and dental service, and perhaps an allowance, all of which she 
may lose after marriage. In confronting your financial problems, do 
not expect to start in where your parents are now, either. 

About That Budget 

Does the word "budget" scare you? A budget is only a plan to get the 
most from your income. Can- you afford this or that? How do you 
know unless your income is budgeted? Do you find it hard to make 
ends meet to pay all the bills? Do you wonder "where it has all gone"? 
Before you plan your budget, here are some facts you should bear in 

Expenses for various items will not be the same for each month or 
each year. In winter the fuel costs will run high, in spring and fall the 
clothing bills. Some years there will be extra expenses, such as a new 
car or a baby. Professor Bigelow points out that there is usually a fam- 
ily cost cycle which rises steadily through the years to a peak, and 
then declines sharply after the children have become self-supporting. 2 
Changes in the financial condition of the country at large also pro- 
foundly affect family financial planning. Families vary also in their in- 
terests and desires. Some wish to spend more for one item, and some 
for another. In view of all these factors, then, it is hardly sound to 
say that a family should spend a certain proportion of its income for 
food, rent, clothing, or any other particular item. Each family must 
work out its own budget in the light of its income and desires. The 
following suggestions may prove of help in working out the budget: 

1 List your monthly income. 

2 List all items of regular expense which are predictable, such as rent, gas, 
light, telephone, installment payments, and insurance. Include groceries 
if you can estimate their cost with reasonable accuracy. 

2 See his chapter "Financing the Marriage" in Howard Becker and Reuben Hill, 
eds., Family, Marriage, and Parenthood (Boston: Heath, 1948). 


3 List your probable expenses for other essentials, such as clothing, carfare, 
and laundry. 

4 Allocate a personal allowance for each member of the family, including 
children old enough to spend money. (Such expenditures should be the 
private business of each individual, accountable to no one.) List each 
name with the amount of the allowance beside it. 

5 Add all the above expenses together, and subtract the total from the 
monthly income. How much do you have left? Circle it in pencil. If 
you don't have a balance, your plane of living is too high! 

6 Now comes the fun. Forget about how much you have left. Make a 
list of everything you want which you might conceivably afford. Spread 
yourselves. Include new furniture, dishes, silverware, washing machine, 
sporting goods, books, an exciting vacation, or anything within reason. 
Most of these you may not be able to get, but it is fun to write them 

7 Go over this list carefully and arrange the items in order of preference. 
Yes, this is a good time for family squabbles, for differences of opinion 
and taste, but these might just as well come right out into the open. If 
you are not yet married and the girl friend cannot be present, arrange 
the items for yourself, with a family situation in mind. 

8 Now go back over your so-called fixed necessities and see if they are as 
essential as you thought. You may decide to go without so much beer, 
cigarettes, or candy, and spend the money saved for a better vacation 
next summer, or for linoleum for the floor, or for a new suit. Cutting 
down on movies and entertainment might enable your wife to get the 
silver fox scarf she has always wanted, or you to get the fine tennis racket 
or set of golf clubs you have set your heart on. You will be surprised 
how many things which you thought you could not afford now become 
possible. Driblets added together often make a sizable sum. List in one 
column what you might leave out and in a second column what may 
now be included. 

9 Now go back to point five. How much did you have left over after pro- 
viding for the running expenses of the household? Add to it what you 
have saved from your driblets. Then take about three fourths of this 
total and plan to buy as many things on your list under point seven as 
you have money for. 

10 Keep careful accounts, but do not be a fanatic on the subject. If you 
cannot remember where that dime went, forget it and go to the movies 
as you had planned. 

11 Oh, yes, what about that other fourth of what you had left (point 9) 
after deducting all usual running expenses and buying what you wished? 
Save it. For what? For emergencies, such as sickness and hospital 
bills; for the education of the children; to give yourself a start on a home 
of your own; or just to start a bank account. But do not save it all. 


For before next pay day you may run into something which you very 
much want but which is not in the budget. If you can, get it. For if 
your budget is too tight it will prove so uncomfortable that you may be- 
come disgusted and chuck the whole thing. Leave a little room for 
moving about. 

So you see, the budget is not a Demon Chaperon always keeping 
you from having what you want. It is a way of showing you how to get 
what you want most, instead of losing much of your income in little 
expenditures which leave you nothing to show for them. Almost any 
family will find in a really sound budget a faithful servant. Do not let 
it throw you. If you treat it well, it will give you a real raise in pay, and 
after all, that is what budgets are for. 

When You Have to Borrow 

Many young couples find that unexpected illness, responsibilities for 
parental families, new babies, and a host of other costly items have a 
tendency to pile up so quickly that borrowing money becomes neces- 
sary to meet the bills. Spending beyond one's income just for routine 
living is a complicating factor in family finances. This common experi- 
ence is a result of many factors: i. the bombardment of advertising; 
2. the attempt to keep up with the Joneses or to live up to the standard 
set by the vocational or social or neighborhood group with which the 
new family is identified; 3. the realignment of a standard of living that 
is involved when young people step out of homes that have been going 
concerns for twenty years or more into a new household that doesn't 
include even an eggbeater. So getting some kind of financial help from 
outside is sometimes imperative. 

It is almost as difficult to borrow money wisely as it is to earn it. 
What are the possibilities? 

1 Friends. If you suddenly find yourself without carfare or money to pay 
the dinner check, borrowing from friends may be essential, but as a gen- 
eral practice avoid it like the plague. In the first place, you probably will 
not be able to borrow enough to do much good in any real crisis; and sec- 
ondly, you are very likely to lose your friends, because of your own embar- 
rassment if for no other reason. 

2 Relatives. Accepting a loan from members of the family is a matter so 
dependent upon the nature of the relationship between borrower and 


lender that no generalization is safe. Some young people do not feel com- 
fortable in having to depend upon the family after they are on their own. 
Others approve of the various forms of family subsidy that are the modern 
equivalents of a dowry showers, new home, bonds, allowances, etc. 

3 Advance on salary and wages. This borrowing technique may help out 
if the crisis is temporary; otherwise it merely postpones the inevitable. 

4 Loan sharks. These financiers make loans easy but may charge several 
hundred per cent interest before they are through with you. Never bor- 
row from a loan company which asks you to pay a rate of interest several 
times as high as that of a legitimate loan company. If you get into the 
clutches of a loan shark, seek legal advice at once. If his interest rates are 
beyond the legal rate he cannot collect. 

5 Legitimate loan companies. Available in most cities are loan companies 
which do not try to use tricky devices. Partly because of the high cost of 
collection, however, they charge about 2.5 to 3 per cent interest a month, 
or 30 to 36 per cent a year. Without in any way casting reflection upon 
such companies, we must recognize that this is a much higher rate of in- 
terest than most borrowers can afford to pay, or need to pay. 

6 Banks. These institutions are designed primarily to loan to business en- 
terprises, not to individuals for personal expenses. Usually they loan rela- 
tively small sums to individuals, and only if bonds or similar collateral is 
deposited with the bank in sufficient quantity to cover the loan. If you 
own bonds which you do not wish to sell, the bank may be the very best 
place to secure a loan at a relatively small rate of interest. If you do not 
own such securities, you may find that you will be unable to secure the 

7 Credit unions. There are now credit unions operating on a membership 
basis through labor unions, industries, and fraternal orders. The usual 
rate is i per cent a month, or 12 per cent a year, far lower than you are 
likely to pay elsewhere. By all means, before you borrow elsewhere, find 
out if there is a credit union connected with your place of employment or 
some other group to which you belong. If you must borrow, the credit 
union is best designed to meet your temporary need. 

Giving Yourself a Raise in Pay 

Obviously many people have serious money problems just because they 
do not earn enough. However, the financial difficulties of many middle 
class people arise mainly because they do not spend wisely the money 
which they receive. Some families are constantly bemoaning their pov- 
erty and longing for a raise in pay. But when the raise in pay does 
come, they find to their consternation that they are farther behind than 


they were before. The reason is that for every dollar of additional in- 
come they get, they raise their expenditures two dollars. No amount of 
additional income which they can ever hope to get can solve their prob- 
lem. They must solve it themselves on the expenses end. Let us con- 
sider some suggestions for so doing. 

Don't Throw Money out the Window. Here are some of the more com- 
mon wasteful expenditures: 

1 Participating in confidence games and frauds. You may never 
have bought fake oil stocks, but what about the panhandler on the cor 
ner whose take averages $30 a day? What about the numerous fake 
charities which abound? Did you pay a registration fee to that so-called 
employment agency? Or fall for the "free lot won with a lucky ticket" 
gag? Poor families which can ill afford the loss are annually mulcted of 
sums which run into millions. Approximately $200 per family is lost 
annually in such deals. Two hundred dollars would really help your 

2 Gambling. There is little bona fide gambling in the United 
States. Most of what is called gambling is really the donation of suck- 
ers to swindlers. Slot machines pay off from five to thirty cents on the 
dollar. Pools and bookie bets often give odds no better. 

3 Buying worthless products, especially drugs. Do you pay good 
money for stuff in bottles guaranteed to take your unpleasant breath 
away, massacre bacteria, prevent colds, and warm up cold love affairs? 
Know, then, that most of these mouth washes, antiseptics, and patent 
medicines in general are essentially frauds. If your weight reducer po- 
tion is only a fraud, you are lucky. If it were effective, it would be 
highly dangerous. One way of helping your budget is by looking in your 
medicine cabinet. 

4 Buying things you dont want. We all see things in stores which 
attract us. But when we get them home we wonder why we ever 
bought them. Anyone who goes through the stuff which he has bought 
but never used or cared about will get the idea. These white elephants, 
herds of them, cost money, lots of it. Cut them out and you can in- 
crease your income, considerably. 

Gef More and Better Goods for Less Money. You can, you know. 
Many products can be purchased for less money than the general pub- 
lic pays. Consider, for example, the following instance. Two little 


wives went to market. Mrs. Squander and Mrs. Canny went to the 
same shopping district on the same day. Each bought the articles and 
paid the prices indicated in the accompanying table. 

No, you are wrong. Mrs. Squander did not get better goods. The 
last five items which each bought are identical in quality. In the sheets 
Mrs. Canny got the best buy, with a tensile strength of 71 and 72 
pounds for warp and fill respectively. Those bought by Mrs. Squander 
had a tensile strength of 62 and 67. And tensile strength is probably 
the best indicator of wearing quality. 


6 muslin sheets, 81 " X 108" $4.09 $24.54 @ $3.00 $18.00 

2 men's broadcloth shirts, 2 & 2 ply 14.00 8.00 

2 nylon jersey slips 15.90 11.90 
6 pairs of nylon hose, 30 denier, 

51 gauge $1.90 11.40 $1.35 

i bottle, 100 5 gr. aspirin tablets, USP .50 

i fld. oz. bottle, make-up base 1.80 


With the remainder of her money, Mrs. Canny was able to get in addition: 

i chenille bedspread, good quality 
i slip cover for chair 
i roll aluminum foil 

1 sponge mop 

2 magazines at 35^ each 

Grand Total 

Contrary to popular opinion, the best is not always the most expen- 
sive. Thousands of tests have shown that some products will last much 
longer than others which cost more. The less expensive articles are 
often the nicest, as well as the most durable. Price tells little about 
quality. Getting more and better goods for less money is one of the 
simplest ways of giving yourself a raise in pay. But, you say, how can 
I buy for less? How can I be Mrs. Canny in my shopping? 

1 Judge products on the basis of scientific tests, rather than sales or 
advertising claims. The government does not buy jeeps on the basis of 
the pictures of pretty girls in advertisements. Neither do railroads buy 
rails because Betta Harake says they are the smoothest she ever rode on, 
or because a luscious radio voice describes them as "bright, shining, 
smooth steel ribbons." Nor does the printer of popular magazines buy 


his paper on such a basis. They all depend upon specifications and 
tests. So should you. Since the consumer can hardly maintain his own 
testing laboratory, he must depend upon some such service as Consum- 
ers Union or Consumer's Research. 3 Like clocks, their counsel is not 
always accurate, but taking their advice is far better than guessing. On 
the basis of such reports it becomes possible to buy with confidence 
nonadvertised brands which often sell at considerably lower prices than 
nationally advertised products. For example, a half-pound of a certain 
kind of baking chocolate selling for fifteen cents is the same quality as 
a nationally advertised brand selling for twenty-three cents. Not only 
soap flakes and similar products, but electric refrigerators, washing ma- 
chines, radios, trailers, and tires could often be bought from chain stores 
or mail order houses for as much as 25 per cent less than nationally ad- 
vertised brands of comparable quality and size. And the companies 
stand behind them, too. 

2 Purchase -where you can secure good quality at a low price. It 
may cost as much as seventy-five cents to assemble and deliver an order 
of groceries. Credit is expensive in both bookkeeping and losses. Such 
costs must necessarily be reflected in the prices charged for goods. The 
"name" of the store and personal service may also cause a further in- 
crease in prices, and consequently the mark-up of one store may be twice 
that of another. It is significant that the O.P.A. specifically permitted 
certain classes of grocery stores to charge higher ceiling prices than oth- 
ers. So if you want to give yourself a raise in pay, trade where the 
mark-up is low. The difference may be considerable. 

3 Take advantage of sales, especially seasonal sales. Some supposed 
sales are frauds, but reputable houses do have bona fide sales at which 
goods, especially furniture and clothing, are offered at considerable dis- 
count. Saturday specials at chain stores often offer attractive oppor- 
tunities for saving. 

4 Save money by paying cash. With many products, especially ra- 
dios and electrical equipment, some shops and stores will give a sizable 
discount to any cash customer who demands it. Regarding some mer- 
chandise it has been said that "only saps pay retail prices." It is usu- 
ally cheaper to buy anything for cash. Bookkeeping and bad accounts 
are costly. The store which charges the same price for either cash or 

8 For addresses of these services, see p. 235. 


credit really charges a higher price. If you do not have the cash, either 
borrow it or wait until you do have it. 

5 Consider buying secondhand items. With some products, such 
as furniture, radios, or refrigerators, secondhand or discontinued models 
can sometimes be secured for half price. Perhaps you are prejudiced 
against secondhand goods. Remember, however, that new goods be- 
come secondhand after they have been in your house for only a few 
days. With products which have motors or mechanical equipment 
which will wear out, there is more risk. In any case, with a large pur- 
chase it may pay you to have some expert appraise the product for you, 
even if you must pay him a sizable fee. This precaution is especially 
important if you buy a house, new or old. 

6 Let the family become experts too. Have each member of the 
family specialize in certain types of buying by reading up on the product 
and doing all the purchasing in that area. When contemplating a large 
investment, such as furniture, a refrigerator, or a car, special study 
should be given before buying. 

7 Keep what you have in good repair. A stitch in time saves not only 
nine; it may save the whole garment. A little glue, a screw properly 
placed, may save the whole table or chair. Shiftlessness is by no means 
the only cause of poverty, but it is often a contributing factor. If you 
do not know how to make minor repairs, it will pay you to learn. Here 
again, specialization by each member of the family may prove eco- 

Be Discriminating Regarding Luxuries. Many families of modest in- 
come could raise their standard of living considerably simply by elimi- 
nating one or more of the luxuries which consume so large a proportion 
of their earnings. Let us consider some of the more dispensable lux- 
uries of the average couple. 

1 Entertaining and dining out. Couples naturally want to do some 
entertaining. If this involves expensive food or liquor, the cost will run 
up. One couple dared to substitute simple sandwiches and carefully 
planned games for drinks, and got away with it. The saving may easily 
mean the difference between going into debt or keeping ahead of the 
game and being able to get something you have always wanted. Meals 
eaten out may cost a couple several dollars a week more than meals 
eaten in. It's all right if you want to spend your money that way. On 


the other hand, don't complain about not being able to afford that new 
pair of shoes or that tennis racket which a very few weeks of economy 
at this point would make possible. 

2 Expensive apartments. In most cities it is possible to secure com- 
modious, comfortable apartments at a price considerably less than that 
charged for those with a swanky address. One couple who moved from 
their expensive place found that with the difference in rent they were 
able in the course of a single year to buy a good watch, an electric sew- 
ing machine, an extra radio, a fur scarf, two really good pieces of furni- 
ture, and a serviceable secondhand typewriter. What a simple way to 
raise your standard of living! 

3 The car. A car is a desirable thing to own; it is a convenience, 
and sometimes a necessity. But for most people it is a luxury, since they 
could get along quite well with public transportation. If you are a me- 
chanic, you may be able to operate a car at relatively small expense. 
Otherwise it can easily add several hundred dollars a year to your ex- 
penses. To determine its actual costs include gas and oil, licenses, in- 
surance, depreciation, and interest on the investment of car and the 
garage. If you do not have a car, you will have a surprising sum avail- 
able for other things. 

4 Proving you are better than the Joneses. This is the most expen- 
sive luxury of all. Most people either feel inferior to others or wish to 
feel superior. It is too much work actually to become superior, or peo- 
ple may not have what it takes. So they try to compensate by paying 
more for what they buy. There are a few connoisseurs who really ap- 
preciate choice things and are willing to pay for them, but most people 
who pay high prices do so in order to make themselves feel important. 
A lady was considering two sets of dishes, one of which cost $100, and 
the other $150. She ordered the more expensive set without hesitation. 
She wanted the best, she said. After the dishes were delivered the store 
owner called up in distress. The clerk had made a mistake and mixed 
the price tags. Her dishes were the $100 set. Instead of getting her 
$50 back, she at once ordered the set which she had previously rejected. 
She was buying, not primarily dishes, but a feeling of personal im- 

This is a game at which you cannot win, for as soon as you find your- 
self able to outbuy everyone in your set, you move up the economic 


scale where the competition is keener, and you are right back where you 
were. If you doubled your income you would live and associate with 
people on a still more expensive level, and still could not keep up. 
Some people who get $3000 a month complain that they cannot live 
on their incomes. For most people there is and can be only one solu- 
tion to their economic problems: learn to enjoy life in simple and in- 
expensive ways and stop trying to impress yourself and others by the 
prices which you pay. Many would find that if they learned to depend 
for their enjoyment upon themselves as family members who can have 
fun together rather than upon the things that money can buy, most of 
their economic problems would automatically be solved. 

Production in the Home 

Many people today do not include production within the home as part 
of their real income, nor do they consider how such income can be em- 
ployed most effectively. Much production centers around the prepara- 
tion and serving of food, and it is questionable whether this pays as 
such. We pointed out earlier that it might cost several times as much 
to eat out as to eat in, but this is true only if the family is already pay- 
ing most of the preparation costs anyway. For example, if a five-room 
apartment renting for $100 a month includes a dining room and kitchen, 
the rental costs of preparing and serving food alone will amount to 
about $40. In addition, there is all the investment in equipment, in- 
cluding the refrigerator, stove, dining room and kitchen furniture, and 
dishes, plus the cost of gas and electricity used for food preparation and 
preservation. It is fair to say that the cost of serving food in the home 
must be estimated at about $2.00 a day, not including the cost of the 
food itself. Most of these costs go on whether food is served or not. 

This is not, however, a complete picture, for the couple or family 
which lives in a room or two with no kitchen or dining facilities does 
not enjoy the same conveniences. The dining room, for example, is not 
merely a place for eating but also a work room, and makes the home 
more spacious. Furthermore, providing food in one's home brings satis- 
factions which eating out all the time cannot give. Thus, much of the 
overhead of the apartment which includes dining room, kitchen, and 
necessary equipment can be counted as necessary costs of satisfactory 
family living, just as you now regard the costs of the living room and its 


furnishings. Furthermore, the effort involved in the serving of meals is 
not necessarily unrewarding labor. Some people enjoy preparing food 
and decorating a table, just as they do dancing or playing tennis. 

The preparation of food is not the only productive activity com- 
monly carried on within the family. The making of clothing may in 
some families be considerable, and the repairing of furniture, clothing, 
or other equipment may have high economic value. Cleaning is an- 
other service of real value, as you will quickly discover if you pay to 
have it done. Since most women have more time in the home than 
men do, much of the responsibility for its productive activities falls 
upon them. If both husband and wife work outside the home, how- 
ever, there is no reason why women should be expected to do more than 
their share. Women do not naturally cook and sew any better than 
men. Some of our best chefs and tailors are men. Conversely, the war 
has shown that women can become excellent mechanics. Any differ- 
ence is due to the particular individual, not to the sex, and even indi- 
vidual differences are often due to past learnings and experiences. In 
this connection it should be noted that children can and should assume 
many productive tasks around the home, not only to make the house- 
hold tasks less burdensome for others, but to develop the children as 
well and ready them to assume the responsibilities of a family when 
they marry. 

Should Wives Continue to Work after Marriage? 

Here is something to argue about. Before we line up in battle forma- 
tion, let us objectively examine a few relevant facts. How did the issue 
come about in the first place? Years ago the productive tasks of the 
home were much greater than they are today. With childbearing and 
the lack of modern aids and conveniences, the work of most wives was 
probably greater than that of their husbands. Of them it was said, 
"Man works from sun to sun, but woman's work is never done." Grad- 
ually, however, the family bought more and more of the things which 
women used to make in the home: soap, clothes, and later bread and 
canned goods. Women bore fewer children and had more and more 
conveniences, such as vacuum cleaners and electrical kitchen equipment, 
to aid them. Since these purchases were made with the money earned 
by men, the burden on the husband became increasingly greater. He 


had to do what he did not have to do before: earn enough for two, as 
well as enough for the children. The woman's burden became increas- 
ingly lighter, and for some almost reached the vanishing point. In the 
earlier days, marriage was essentially an economic partnership. Neither 
husband nor wife supported the other, and even the children were sup- 
ported only during the first few years. As time went on, however, and 
wives and children bought more and produced less, the increased bur- 
den on the husband became accepted as the normal and proper situa- 
tion. In the middle and upper income groups, wives often became 
merely expensive luxuries. The extent of the support of a wife came 
for many men to be a test of their abilities. Far from resenting this 
situation, men often assumed the cost proudly as evidence of their earn- 
ing power. Many came to resent violently the idea of their wives' 
working outside the home as a reflection upon their ability to provide 
support. This attitude is now changing, despite the anguished cries of 
those who cherish it. The idea that a man should support his wife, 
which is hardly more than a generation old, seems rapidly passing out. 
With this preliminary discussion, then, let us look at the situation as it 
seems to shape up today. 

1 Some women are temperamentally so built that if they do not have a job 
of their own they either "blow up" or constantly meddle in the affairs of 
their husbands, and possibly those of other husbands as well. With them 
a real job outside the family meets a vital psychological need. 

2 A few women have special talents and skills which ought not to be wasted. 
In this class belong some of our more talented teachers, authors, artists, 
and executives. Such women may take time out for children, but will and 
should remain employed for most of their productive years. 

3 Wives of certain professional men, such as ministers, governmental offi- 
cials, or big business executives, may find their full-time employment as 
helpers and hostesses for their husbands. 

4 Wives of farmers usually have a full-time job where they are. 

5 Many women are really employed extensively outside their homes, but are 
not so regarded because they are not paid. They are prominent in church 
work, P.T.A/s, and various civic and community organizations and enter- 
prises. A woman is not unemployed because she is not paid for her work. 

6 Most wives have neither the strength nor the ability to carry on a very big 
job outside the home while their children still need careful supervision. 
Most wives in cities could carry on a real job, at least part time, before 
their children come and after they are grown. 


7 Some women are so lacking in talents and interests that housekeeping, 
even without children, taxes their capacities to the utmost. 

The wives of today who are employed, then, are doing essentially 
the same things their great-grandmothers did, except that now they are 
doing their jobs outside the home. During the first year or so of mar- 
riage the earning power of the husband is relatively low, while the ex- 
penses are relatively high. Usually all the furniture has to be bought, 
and the couple need to save up enough money for the first baby. Dur- 
ing this period an increasing proportion of wives will insist upon carry- 
ing their share of the economic load. If the earnings of both husband 
and wife are used up for current living expenses, however, they face a 
real problem. A baby will mean that their expenses are considerably 
increased at the same time that their income may be cut almost in half. 
Many couples guard against this difficulty by living on the husband's in- 
come only and saving all that the wife earns. Putting some of the latter 
into home furnishings is one form of saving; the rest is banked. Then 
when the baby comes, their income for ordinary use remains the same, 
and they have a nest egg to take care of the extra expenses. 

Some Hints on Insurance 

Insurance is like marriage no family should be without it. Yet to 
most people it is somewhat of a mystery. They may believe in insur- 
ance. But they have little understanding of what it is, when they should 
take it out, how much and what kind they should have, and with whom 
they should take it. Let us first consider the purpose of life insurance. 
The primary purpose of life insurance is the protection of those who 
are financially dependent in some way upon the insured. We usually 
think of dependents as wife and children. The "dependent" may also 
be a creditor who has insured the life of a debtor so that in case of sud- 
den death he can get his money back. A company may find its man- 
ager so valuable that they insure his life for a huge sum to protect them- 
selves against a sudden deprivation of his direction. In any case, you 
do not take out life insurance because you need it, but because your 
dependents (of whatever type) need it. 

When Should Life Insurance Be Taken Out? When you have depend- 
ents who need it, and not before. You would not take out automobile 


liability insurance before you have a car, or fire insurance on your 
"Dream Home" not yet built. Then do not take out life insurance be- 
fore you have dependents, except in the case of G.I. insurance. This is 
so much cheaper than ordinary insurance that you should take it out 
while you can still get it, and hang on to it. Otherwise, wait until you 
have dependents. Don't be so silly as to think that if you take it out at 
a younger age, it will be cheaper. The rate will be lower, but you will 
be paying for more years, so the total cost will be greater. No insurance 
company can insure you for extra years, even the younger years, without 
additional cost. 

The more dependents you have, the more insurance protection they 
need. Here we face a problem. As a man's family increases, so does 
their need for insurance. But as the children grow up and become in- 
dependent, this need will decline. How can a family get high protec- 
tion while the children are young, without saddling itself with a huge 
burden which will later be unnecessary? The answer is simple. Get 
the kind of insurance which gives you the greatest protection at the 
least cost, and automatically terminates when you no longer need it. 
This is term insurance. With some companies you can get this re- 
newed each year without further examination, at an increasing rate. Or 
you can get it for a specific period, five, ten, or twenty years for the 
same rate each year the policy is in force. 

The best family plan would be for the husband and wife to each 
take out a policy to protect each other, the husband taking out the 
larger amount. They should expect these policies to continue until 
death. In order to keep the payments equal, ordinary life seems the 
best. The children, however, do not need protection until the death of 
the father would normally occur. They need protection until they are 
old enough to take care of themselves. Therefore with each pregnancy 
the father would take out another twenty year term policy on himself. 
For the same money he can give his children twice the protection he 
could with ordinary life. Furthermore, when this protection is no longer 
needed, his costs will decline. 

Should we insure the children themselves? If they have dependents, 
yes. If not, no. If you want to build up a fund to put them through 
college, buy government bonds. They will have a better chance to go 
to college if you insure yourself, not them. 


How Much Insurance Should Be Carried? Statistics show that many 
families take out far more insurance than they can or will keep up. 4 On 
the surface the lapse and surrender rate may not seem excessive. For 
ordinary life it ranged from a low of 2.2 per cent in 1944 to a high of 
11.9 per cent in 1932. Industrial insurance rates were 6.8 per cent in 
1944 to 27.9 per cent in 1932. But these rates are for all policies in 
force, and for one year only. We can get a truer picture if we compare 
the amount given up each year with the amount bought each year. 
During the low years, people gave up more than they bought, not in- 
cluding normal maturing. In the best year, 1944, they gave up a third 
as much as they bought of the ordinary life, and more than half as much 
as they bought of the industrial policies. One study made in New 
York State covering ten years showed that over half of all ordinary life 
policies taken out were given up, and three fourths of all industrial in- 
surance policies. So don't let an agent talk you into overloading. Bet- 
ter take a smaller amount and hang on to it. How much you should 
take will depend largely upon such considerations as: 

1 The size of the family and the ages of the children. 

2 The standard of living which the protected family expects. 

3 What the wife could earn. A woman who is a permanent invalid needs 
more protection than one who is strong and healthy. The wife who has 
some training or skill, like nursing, stenography or a license to teach, needs 
less protection than one who would face widowhood without abilities or 

4 Other economic resources. In time, savings or the gradual accumulation 
of property may lessen the need for insurance protection. Include also 
any forms of social security, governmental or private, by which the fam- 
ily is protected. 

What about Insurance as an Investment? This book is not written for 
wealthy people who may need huge policies in order to get cash with 
which to pay heavy inheritance taxes. For the ordinary family, the in- 
vestments in insurance are for two purposes: to "level off" payments 
and to invest savings. The first kind is seen in the whole life policy. 
As people become older, their insurance costs rise. If the payments are 

4 The figures here quoted were compiled mainly from the Life Insurance Fact 
Book (1951), published by the Institute of Life Insurance, 60 East 4oth Street, New 
York City. 


to remain the same throughout life, the company must "overcharge' 7 
people while they are young, so that they can "undercharge" them 
when they become old. The excess paid in the early years is saved by 
the insurance company and appears as the loan or cash surrender value 
of the policy. The interest on this saving is used to help pay the total 
costs of the policy. On the average the savings will be enough to pay 
off the entire policy by the time of death. This investment is actually 
a type of convenience to the policy holder, making it possible for him 
to meet the payments of later years without payments being prohibi- 
tively high. 

Savings may be invested through the endowment policy. This is 
really a form of term insurance at about four times the cost. The ex- 
cess is saved and invested by the company. If the person outlives the 
term of the policy its face value (say, $1000) is returned in a lump sum. 
But if he dies before the policy expires his beneficiaries get only the 
same amount they would have received from a term policy. The com- 
pany keeps the excess. If he had bought a term policy and saved the 
difference in cost, in case of prior death the beneficiaries would have 
received the thousand plus all the additional savings. These could 
amount to over $900. Endowment insurance is a "tails I lose" "heads 
I break even" proposition; not an intelligent proposition, even if you 
will probably live. It has one defense. Some people seem unable to 
save anything, even when their earnings are high. If they have to make 
payments on an endowment policy they may end up with savings which 
otherwise they would have squandered. 

Apart from such compulsory saving, there are at least two possibili- 
ties for investment for the ordinary individual which are better than 
insurance. Government bonds are both more secure and more fluid. 
And if you want to guard against inflation, there are sound investment 
companies which will invest your money with as much care and skill as 
an insurance company. 

Finally, remember that insurance agents are human beings. Most 
of them are not dishonest; neither are they saints. Their incomes de- 
pend upon the amount of insurance they sell. Don't expect them to 
recommend policies of other companies, even if they are cheaper and 
better for your needs. Expect of them what you would of any sales- 
men; that they will do their best to sell their products. When they sell 
protection they are often rendering a valuable service. When they try 


to sell their banking and investment services, their efforts are more 

What Type of Policy is Best? For those who can get it, G.I. insurance 
is the best insurance available. But most people will have to buy 
through regular companies. Some of these are ingenious at developing 
all kinds of "special" policies. But if you understand a few basic prin- 
ciples, you can easily reduce them to a few major types. For example, 
one policy provides for low payments during the first five years (when 
your earnings are presumably low) and substantial increase after that. 
This is likely to be a term policy which automatically becomes con- 
verted to whole life after five years. 

Industrial insurance is not really a different kind of insurance, but 
rather a way of paying for insurance. Instead of making monthly or 
annual payments, you pay a collector who stops in each week to collect. 
Because of the costs of such collection, this is the most expensive type 
of insurance and should be avoided. Likewise, the limited payment 
policy is not a different kind of insurance, but merely a way of paying 
for whole-life insurance more rapidly, so that at the end of a specified 
period the interest on your reserve takes care of all future insurance 
costs, and you need pay no more in yourself. Group insurance is cheap, 
and valuable for those who, because of physical disabilities, cannot get 
any other kind. A group, such as the employees of a certain company, 
are insured as a whole. When you leave the employ of the company, 
your protection automatically ceases. In other words, it is term insur- 
ance, the term being the length of time you remain with the same 

We have suggested that insurance be used for protection only, and 
not for investment. There is one exception, the annuity policy. This 
is a type of social security operated by the insurance company instead 
of the government. If your retirement pension is not already adequately 
provided for, and you wish to be assured of an income for your old age, 
the annuity policies of insurance companies should be given serious 
consideration. The plan is for you to pay a certain amount each year 
into the fund. When you reach the retirement age as stated on the 
policy, the company either pays you a flat sum or a stipulated income 
for the rest of your life. If you die before the policy becomes due, the 
amount already accumulated is paid to your estate. 


With Whom Should You Take Your Insurance? Some unscrupulous or 
uninformed people may try to tell you that in insurance you get just 
what you pay for, and that therefore it makes no difference with which 
company you take out your policy. This is simply not true. A com- 
parison of ten large companies showed that the annual net cost per 
$1000 of ordinary life taken out at the age of eighteen varied from $4.90 
to $7.50. Over a period of years such differences may amount to many 
hundreds of dollars, depending upon the amount of insurance taken out 
and the type of policy. In some states, including New York, savings 
banks sell certain types of policies at a cost much below the usual rate. 
Teachers and similar groups can often secure insurance from companies 
specially organized to serve them. All such possibilities should be care- 
fully considered. Those who plan to take out any large amount of in- 
surance might save considerably by going to an insurance advisory serv- 
ice (which has no insurance to sell) and paying a fee for competent 
guidance and advice. 

Life insurance for most people is one of the most important and 
least understood expenditures a family makes. A well-rounded program 
of protection will, however, include such other types as health and acci- 
dent insurance, whether or not there are dependents. Every family 
should have hospitalization insurance to cover every member, including 
the children. If a policy which also includes medical care is available, 
so much the better. Anyone who owns property which might burn, 
such as a house or furnishings in a home, should have adequate fire in- 
surance protection. A car owner should have liability insurance, and 
probably fire and theft insurance. Since for these forms of insurance 
also the costs of reliable companies vary extensively, careful investiga- 
tions should be made. The policies of mail-order houses and coopera- 
tives often offer especially attractive buys. 

Fitting Money Matters into the Total Picture 

To the unmarried, sex may seem to be the really important factor in 
marriage. To those who have been married for some time and face a 
monthly array of bills, money may appear to be the really crucial issue. 
Actually the real significance of any individual factor like money is its 
relationship to the total picture. Money matters are related to all 
aspects of family life they affect family life and it affects them. 




"I told Charlie we'd have a perfect marriage 
if we never mention money/ 7 

Obviously, any home worry affects the way a man does his job. If 
he leaves his home angry and resentful, his attitude will almost inevi- 
tably be reflected in his relations with his coworkers, the customers, or 
the boss. The man whose home is breaking up, or who fears that it may 
break up, cannot keep his mind on his work to the best advantage, all 
of which will ultimately affect his chances of promotion or even of keep- 
ing the job he has. On the other hand, a sense of happiness and se- 
curity at home may considerably augment his earning power. It may 
well give him a goal for effort. He wants to show the little woman that 
when she married him she made no mistake. A new baby may call 
forth not only cigars but additional exertion. If at home he has found 
happiness and support, if his home experiences build him up psychologi- 
cally, he actually is a better man and can earn more. 

The effect of income on marital success is more involved than the 
effect of happiness on income. Certainly extreme destitution is poor 


soil in which to grow the fragrant flowers of marital happiness. The 
home of the simple Scotch peasant which Burns depicts in his "Cotter's 
Saturday Night" is stable, but one would hardly describe it as happy. 
The moral of the story, however, is sound: the most important consid- 
eration is not the amount of income, but the family attitude toward the 
total situation. This attitude is affected profoundly by two considera- 
tions: the security of the income, and the social standards by which it 
is measured. The cotter did not have much, but he was relatively se- 
cure in what he had. No world-wide economic forces threatened to 
move his economic earth, or cast the mountains of his livelihood into 
the midst of the sea of depression. Come what might, pestilence or 
famine, he would always have a job, an opportunity of directing his 
efforts in productive channels. He would never have to tramp the 
streets, day after day, looking for work which was not to be found, nor 
would he have to mope around the house or the tavern in hopeless de- 
spair. Furthermore, his standard of living, while low, was not lower 
than that of his neighbors, save that of the Laird, to which he did not 
even aspire. 

Studies show that stability of income is far more important than 
amount of income. People need enough money to provide for basic 
physical necessities, but they can get along on very little provided they 
can be reasonably sure of that little. When they are never sure what 
they can depend upon from one year to the next, their morale is under- 
mined, and their economic insecurity is reflected in greater marital un- 
happiness and conflict. 

Another factor is personal and social expectation. A family with a 
$6000 income which insists on associating with a $12,000 income crowd 
will always feel poor and pinched. The wife may feel that she should 
have married better and the husband that he has failed. This situation 
may easily give rise to serious marital conflict. If, on the other hand, 
they are members of a $3000 crowd, the situation may be the reverse. 

Money matters, then, can and do affect marriage profoundly. Their 
effects, however, depend primarily upon the intelligence with which 
they are understood and handled. No matter how large the income, 
money problems can become pegs upon which other difficulties and con- 
flicts are hung and carefully preserved. On the other hand, a wise and 
ethical adjustment in other matters will reflect itself in greater money 


income and security, and sound financial relationships can make even 
small incomes strong enough to bear the load. 

Selected Readings 

BIGELOW, HOWARD F., Family Finance (Philadelphia: Lippincott, revised, 


BONDE, RUTH, Management in Daily Living (New York: Macmillan, 1944), 

Chap. 7. 

CAMPBELL, P. c., Consumer Interest (New York: Harper, 1949). 

CANOYER, H. G., AND VAILE, R. s., Economics of Income and Consumption 
(New York: Ronald Press, 1951). 

FOSTER, LEBARON, Credit for Consumers (New York: Public Affairs Com- 
mittee, 1945), Pamphlet #5, revised edition. 

HIMES, NORMAN E., Your Marriage: A Guide to Happiness (New York: 
Farrar and Rinehart, 1940), chaps. 12-18. 

How Families Use Their Incomes, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Publica- 
tion No. 653, 1948. 

JORDAN, DAVID F., AND wiLLETT, EDWARD F., Managing Personal Finances 
(New York: Prentice-Hall, revised, 1945), chaps, i, 2, 6. 

MCFADDEN, FRANCES, "I Can't Afford My Wife's Job," Harpers Magazine, 
September, 1952, pp. 62-65. 

NICKELL, PAULENA, AND DORSET, JEAN M., Management in Family Living 
(New York: Wiley, revised, 1950), chaps. 15-20. 

RADELL, NINA H., Financial Planning for the Individual and Family (New 
York: Crofts, 1947). 

REID, MARGARET s., Consumers in the Market (New York: Crofts, revised, 

TAYLOR, JAY, "Going Broke on $10,000 a Year," Harpers Magazine, July, 
1952, pp. 60-65. 

Consumers Services 

CONSUMER'S RESEARCH, Washington, New Jersey. 

CONSUMERS UNION, 38 East ist Street, New York City 3. 

HOUSEHOLD FINANCE CORPORATION, 919 N. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illi- 
nois. Better Buymanship pamphlets on specific products, and other in- 
expensive pamphlet material for consumers. 


Reproduced by permission of L. A. Gntsr.h. 
from the Saturday Evening Post, May 3, 1952 


Is it true that the way to hold marriage together is to bear and forbear? 

Shouldn't the course of true love run smooth? 

Can fighting be fun? 

How can unpleasant fighting be stopped? 
What kind of help is there for the discordant? 



probably would have had their disagreements like everyone else. When- 
ever two individuals undertake a close and continuous association, inevi- 
table occasions arise when there is a clash of wills. The closer the asso- 
ciation and the freer the personalities, the more vigorous this clash may 
be. Since marriage is the most intimate and the most demanding of all 
adult human relationships, this element of conflict is an inescapable part 
of its nature. 

Conflict is Normal 

Two tasks that are productive of conflict face the newly-wed. The first 
is concerned with establishing a common set of workable routines, a 
mutually acceptable way of living, and a new set of family policies out 
of the two systems carried over from the parental families of the be- 
trothed. The second task involves two egos struggling for individual 
survival as the marriage moves to bring about incorporation of both in 
a common joint personality. Conflict serves a useful function in setting 
the optimum distance and nearness personalities can take in a new mar- 


riage. Much of the "fussing" at one another which occurs in the first 
years reflects these two processes of accommodation of ways of living and 
a healthy resistance to self-destruction. 

Every marital union is, to a certain degree, a mixed marriage. The 
two parties bring from their parental families different wants and vari- 
ant ideas of what's funny and what's important. Every time a decision 
is reached in a young marriage, some of these differences are likely to 
come to light. Only by grinding the gears a bit at the start is it possible 
to learn how to mesh them correctly. Consensus of opinion can only 
follow exchange of differing views. 

Susan and Jim are a couple whose conflicts should have occurred 
early in marriage rather than late for the good health of the relation- 
ship. They were seventeen and nineteen respectively when they mar- 
ried, just out of high school. Susan was especially eager to make the 
marriage a success. 

Jim and his four brothers had been reared by his widowed father 
without experience in the needs and wants of women in a family. He 
was never exposed to the orderliness, neatness, and regularity of house- 
keeping procedures so prized by the good housewife. He professed ig- 
norance of the costs of permanents, sheer stockings, and household arti- 
cles. To complicate matters even more, Jim had been reared to feel that 
the man should be the head of the house and control the purse strings. 

Susan appears to have overlooked these differences between them 
during the engagement, and early marriage found her ill prepared to 
cope with the situation. Instead of forthrightly battling out the issues 
when Jim came late for meals or sometimes didn't eat at all, as had been 
his pattern in parental home, Susan adapted herself to her husband's 
unorthodox behavior. After the children arrived, it became increasingly 
difficult to manage financially with what Jim gave her. 

Susan made no moves to battle for joint handling of the family 
finances. She held back the angry words with the intention of preserv- 
ing harmony. Tensions built up in the financial area and, as so often 
happens, spilled over into the recreational area, and finally affected their 
sexual relations which heretofore had been mutually enjoyable. 

Jim now admits to Susan's pastor, to whom she has appealed for 
help, that his marriage has gone sour. Yet he is baffled by it all: they 
have had only one or two serious squabbles after six years of marriage. 

Six years is too long to go without a quarrel. There were basic dif- 


ferences here that begged attention before settling down to the rou- 
tines of living. A good fight might have cleared the air, defined the is- 
sues, and ventilated the house of some of the unresolved tensions before 
they cracked the relationship. Conflict has a dual function: the solu- 
tion of issues and the release of the resentment and tensions which arise 
in every relationship. 

Withholding Circumscribes the Relationship 

Consistently repressed tensions are hard on the relationship. They 
tend to circumscribe and narrow the topics of conversation in a mar- 
riage, and to delimit the areas of activity together. In the case of Jim 
and Susan, family entertainment, family finances, and sex relationships 
were rarely discussed because of the strain both felt when these matters 
came up. Tensions disturb the normal functioning of the family be- 
cause they accumulate and spread and become associated with other 
areas of living. 

The second area of married life in which conflict serves a useful pur- 
pose is in setting the boundaries of ego protection and ego involvement. 
There is a marked tendency in the ecstasy of the honeymoon and early 
months of marriage to establish a closeness of association which be- 
comes burdensome, especially when erotic discoveries have ceased to 
suffuse the relationship with pleasure. Quarrels destroy these burden- 
some patterns and bring into being more tolerable customs. Where 
the early intimacy of marriage is not relaxed, it produces strain upon 
both and it rewards neither correspondingly it is a sort of tax which 
makes everyone poor and enriches no one proportionately and the 
conflicts which redefine this situation are therefore highly useful. 

Married couples seek by experience to find the optimum nearness 
that they can tolerate. Like porcupines who approach one another for 
warmth yet are repelled by the other's barbs, the married couple must 
achieve that distance which is optimum for warmth without being too 
ego involving. Clearly this can be achieved only through conflict of a 
sort. Ultimately the couple must feel for themselves the reality of each 
other's emotional resistances and take the measure of each other's ca- 
pacity for mutual accommodation. 

Sometimes restrained discussion is advocated as a better alternative 
to quarreling. But the danger is that cold discussion arrives only at 



"That's all I have to say on the subject, my dear. 
The argument is closed/ 7 

Reproduced by special permission of the Saturday Evening Post, 
copyright 1943 by the Curtis Publishing Company. Bob Gallivan 

an intellectual solution which fails to do justice to the emotional ele- 
ments in the conflict. If research and clinical evidence are valid, it is 
best that these emotional elements be expressed. Marriage partners 
can come to terms on a basis of reality only when they have felt the heat 
of each other's hostile feelings. A marriage should be organized to in- 
clude the expression of both positive and negative emotions if it is to 
be a communicating and satisfying relationship. 

Changing Feelings about Marital Conflict 

In Chapter Twenty, "Marriage Isn't What It Used to Be," you will find 
discussed the liberation of the wife and child from the traditions of the 
patriarchal family and the transformation of the father from a dominat- 


ing figure to a companionable partner in family life. Many of these re- 
markable changes have occurred in the past generation, but most peo- 
ple are not sufficiently out of the woods of transition with respect to 
freedom of discussion to accept discord and disharmony in marriage as 
evidence of growth. As participants in the transition we are uncertain 
about the desirability of quarreling, and many of us will feel conscience- 
stricken after "indulging," as we call it, in a marital spat. Let's draw 
the lines clearly between the two schools of thought and see the direc- 
tion in which we seem to be heading. 

First, let us look at the school of marriage whose traditions linger 
with us yet, the patriarchal system of thought which flowered in Puri- 
tan New England. Out of this period came our hundreds of maxims 
glorifying marital bliss, family harmony at all costs, and so on. It was 
an adult-centered world, in which children were to be seen and not 
heard, where the wife and mother was passive, patient, benign, and long- 
suffering. Peace and quiet in the home were evidence of the power and 
absolute authority of the father. Quarreling of any variety was evidence, 
on the other hand, of the breakdown of patriarchal authority and was 
to be quelled without delay. Writers and public speakers of the period 
supported the father in his position by repeating platitudes for the edi- 
fication of children and their mothers. We use some of them today: 
"Forgive and forget," "Bear and forbear," "Let bygones be bygones," 
"Speak when spoken to," "God bless our happy home," "Home, sweet 
home," "Turn the other cheek," "A soft answer turneth away wrath." 

The harmony of the patriarchal household was purchased at a high 
price in frustration and dulled sensibilities. Actually there existed much 
of what might be called covert conflict, deep resentment at the high- 
handedness of the authority which enforced harmony at such cost. It 
is probably safe to say that there has been less increase in marital con- 
flict since Puritan days than one would suppose. The conflict has 
merely changed from covert, undercover resentment and discord to open 
conflict. Families in those days couldn't afford to waste their energies, 
they thought, fighting among themselves, and they attempted to bury the 
differences which cropped up within the family rather than air and set- 
tle them once and for all. It was important to preserve front both 
within the family and without. Indeed it was a matter of family pride 
and a mark of class to preserve harmony in the home. 

We are burdened today with the vestiges of the self-righteous, sweet- 


ness-and-light mode of thinking. The hundreds of couples who come to 
marital guidance clinics regularly to gain relief from guilty feelings of 
unworthiness because they quarrel at home are living proof of this as- 
sertion. Moreover, the emergence of a democratic, person-centered 
family with its accent on the sacredness of personality has not cleared 
away the debris of broken patriarchal traditions. It will take a little 
time. Meantime, children in democratic homes will be given assurance 
that quarreling is not something to fear or condemn, but something to 
understand. Some of the guilt and unworthiness may be made to dis- 
appear with our generation! 

The Mental Hygiene of Conflict 

Mental hygiene, which was ushered in with the democratic, personality- 
oriented family, accepts a certain amount of overt conflict as normal. 
Much of the conflict merely indicates the presence of differences which 
occur as a couple explore new areas or attempt new tasks. Gradually 
the friction wears the protruding parts smooth, and a consensus is 
reached. Thereafter conflict is less likely to occur in that specific area, 
but it may and should bob up again and again as long as the family con- 
tinues to meet new and different problems. 

The modern couple will expect that in marriage they have a place 
of security and intimacy where they are free to behave like human be- 
ings with the normal variety of emotions. The workaday world, organ- 
ized as it is, does not permit the frank expression of resentment, vanity, 
jealousy, and selfish ambition along with tenderness and love, all of 
which exist in the normal person. The individual must control his an- 
noyances and his affections, he must often act like something && .than 
human to get along in our complex industrial society. If he flies off the 
handle at his boss he may lose his job. There needs to be some place, 
however, where the individual can give vent to his annoyances and be 
himself, and that place seems to be in marriage. If there is that kind of 
cantankerousness in a marriage, the couple should chalk it down as 
proof that their marriage is performing one of its main functions pro- 
viding a place to let off steam and re-establish emotional balance. If a 
marriage is so fragile that it must be maintained by the same kind of 
artificial manners that keeps an office force functioning, it is pretty pre- 
cariously based. One insightful authority has stated in positive terms, 


"One of the functions of marriage is to weave a rope of relationship 
strong enough to hold each person at his worst." 

As a couple enter marriage they face a number of adjustments, some 
of which are painful in the sense that it is painful to learn to ride a 
horse, to play a piano, or to develop any other complex skill. But new 
adjustments of marriage are more than learning new tasks: they also in- 
volve unlearning and revising old habits. 

Many of the quarrels in marriage are helpful devices to dispel ten- 
sions engendered by unlearning of old habits and learning of new ones. 
Some arise out of the frustrations which the discipline of marriage ex- 
acts, and others arise quite naturally out of the unprepared-for intima- 
cies of marriage. Much of conflict merely reflects the growing edges of 
a new relationship. It denotes growth and change rather than a passive 
acceptance of the new tasks on the part of either party. In the early 
stages much of the conflict consists of defining the issues and finding 
where the other stands on the many new problems they are facing. 

Productive and Destructive Quarreling 

Having taken the position that much of the conflict in marriage is nor- 
mal and desirable, we must still distinguish between productive and de- 
structive conflict. Destructive quarrels, to take one form of destructive 
conflict, are those which leave fewer assets in the relationship than it 
had before. Destructive quarreling is directed at the person and suc- 
ceeds in destroying the illusions and fictions by which the person lives. 
It is a type of conflict which concentrates on the other's ego. It is of 
the belittling and punishing variety. Destructive quarrels lead to alien- 
ation as the love object is transformed into a hate object, and separa- 
tion is thereby made possible. Destructive quarrels have at least one 
value. They succeed in sufficiently alienating incompatible couples so 
that engagements are broken, or if marriage has occurred, so that early 
divorce follows. 

Productive quarrels may be differentiated by the fact that the mar- 
riage is made stronger through a redefinition of the situation causing the 
conflict. Productive quarreling is limited and directed at an issue, and 
it leads to a new and more complete understanding. Issues, problems, 
and conditions rather than the person himself tend to be the object of 
productive quarrels. Ideally, the quarrels tend to become fewer and less 


violent as the marriage progresses and basic routines and solutions to 
problems are established. The quarrel tends to become a discussion 
progressively delimited in the areas it covers. 1 Gradually the couple 
learn the techniques for handling conflict, so that for problem solving 
purposes at least it is not so violent nor so painful. 

Another type of productive quarrel of the early years of marriage is 
that which relaxes the strain which builds up out of the unprepared-for 
intimacies of marriage. It gives the couple an opportunity and an ex- 
cuse to desist from the intense honeymoon attachments and get a breath 
of air. Quarrels in the honeymoon and first year, moreover, serve to 
bring the parties face to face with the realities of their marriage. Some 
conflict helps to remove the blinders from their eyes and enables them 
to appreciate one another as persons rather than as imaginary incarna- 
tions of perfection. The reaction, "But you seemed so different, so 
much taller and romantic, when we were engaged . . . ," may bring 
pain of disillusionment but is a healthy experience. If romantic illu- 
sions have been built up it is a productive quarrel which brings the 
newlyweds down to earth. A husband can't live long in a rosy haze with 
an imaginary wife and remain mentally healthy. 

One of the benefits of productive quarrels is that they reveal to the 
married couple how strong their relationship really is. Some men and 
women, deluded by the romantic notion that love must have left when 
monotony comes in, are surprised at the force of the love emotions 
which arise as a result of a quarrel. Quarreling thus helps to stabilize 
the marriage by reminding the couple, as they kiss and make up, of the 
depth of their love. 

Dynamics of Conflict 

What are the alternatives open to the couple who find themselves be- 
coming panicky because of the frequency of their blow-ups? The more 
severe and deep-seated conflicts will require the attention of a compe- 
tent psychiatrist. Quarreling which has departed from issues to con- 
centrate on the person, which we have termed destructive conflict, be- 
comes progressively severe after a few brutal truth sessions, and may be 
halted only by recourse to a highly skilled third party. Marital guid- 

1 Willard Waller and Reuben Hill, The Family: A Dynamic Interpretation 
(New York: Dryden Press, 1951), p. 310. 



ance clinics accept just such cases, helping the couple accomplish, with 
the aid of the consultant, that which unaided they are unable to do for 

CHECK YOURSELF Which of the following excerpts from quarrels suggest destruc- 

tive and which productive quarreling? 



1 "You aren't fit to be a mother, leaving the baby all 
week with strangers." 

2 "Why didn't someone tell me marriage would be like 
this, cooking and ironing and scrubbing all day?" 

3 "You will never amount to anything and neither will 
we as long as we depend on you to support us, you 

4 "This is the last time I'm waiting for you for supper; 
after this you'll get your own or come on time." 

5 "You aren't the man I married. What did I ever see 
in you? Oh, I could just die. . . ." 

6 "You sit home all day reading or go out to some catty 
dames' bridge club and leave the house like a pig pen." 

7 "Get a cookbook, sister, get a book and start studying. 
This is the last lousy meal I'm eating here, under- 

8 "Darling, you must put on your rubbers. You aren't so 
young as you were." 

* KEY L '9 > 'Z 

9 'S 't 'I 

Fortunately, not too many couples are burdened with conflicts which 
get so far out of hand. So much of conflict is normal and a part of 
living that it need not be the occasion for panic. The informed couple 
learn to recognize the source of their differences early and to relay to 
one another the message that excitement is brewing, without spoiling 
the fun by appearing too much in control of the situation. Let's look 
at the process a bit more in detail. 

Most conflict situations find one party the aggressor and one the de- 
fendant. Married people need to know how to play both roles well to 
get the most out of the quarrel. They may have to change roles right 
in the middle to keep things moving to a satisfying climax in which 


tensions are fully released. There is sometimes what appears to be a 
bit of perverse interdependence, the aggressor needing the defendant, 
and after a while the defendant needing the aggressor, to carry the fight 
on. Both would feel cheated and disappointed if either party retired 
from the fray too soon. 

The privilege of initiating the conflict is available to the party who 
develops the irritability first. He or she has a chip on the shoulder and 
is looking for trouble. The aggressor role includes, therefore, the in- 
sight to recognize in oneself feelings of malaise, uneasiness, or frustra- 
tion and the willingness to do something about it. It includes the skill 
of identifying and forthrightly relaying to the partner the sore spots in 
one's make-up as they are touched in the sparring "Ouch, that hurts." 
Obviously, it should also include the willingness to kiss and make up 
when the inner tension has subsided. Often the tension subsides with- 
out solving the problem which occasioned the outburst. But there is 
no hurry; the immediate need is to relieve the tension under which the 
aggressor seems to be operating. The original problem may lend itself 
to solution the next morning when things look rosier. 

The marital sparring partner who plays the defendant role has a 
special responsibility. If the irritability of the aggressor seems due to 
hunger, sickness, fatigue, pregnancy, menstrual blues, or tensions aggra- 
vated by other physiological disfunction, the situation may call for lis- 
tening it out, for reassurance and sympathy rather than active opposi- 
tion. The person who has been emotionally wounded in his workaday 
contacts may need the same understanding and sympathy. Humilia- 
tions and personal defeats may be offset by the understanding interest 
of the partner. The partner needs to be sure of his ground, for there is 
nothing more infuriating to the person out to pick a fight than failure 
on the part of the defendant to respond to his aggressions. The need 
for response is all the keener in the person on an emotional spree. 

In interpersonal relations much depends on the ability of the par- 
ticipants to anticipate the responses of the other. So much behavior 
consists of anticipated reactions that the skillful sparring partner must 
learn what the other expects and say, "He's asking for it; I'll give it to 
him." The sore spots alluded to above may sometimes be painful, and 
the partner may need to work around them in his verbal punching. For 
the wife to jeer at her husband's inability to make more money or to 
become president of the firm would be for most men a blow below the 


belt, because she aims at the area over which he has least control. Like- 
wise for a man to taunt his wife about her inability to have children 
may be such a cruel jab that she will never quite recover. In time the 
sparring partner learns to anticipate the hidden weaknesses and finds 
where to aim his blows to get the maximum release of tension with a 
minimum damage to the personality. This discussion may sound far- 
fetched to the student who has had no occasion to think it through, 
but every couple in conflict experience some of these reactions in some 
degree. Some participants become very skillful in their battling and 
recognize conflict for what it is, a tension-dispelling experience of real 

Sfages of Conflict. Unless the newly married have had a background 
of conflict in their respective parental families, they may be devastated 
by their first quarrels. In time they will come to recognize that conflict 
has a pattern and runs a course which is predictable. At least three 
stages are discernible. 

1 At the beginning of the battle, the first stage, there is often petulant irri- 
tability and jittery nagging on the part of the wife, if she is the aggressor. 
If the husband is the aggressor, the symptoms of tension express them- 
selves in emotionally toned growling, griping, and overcritical comments 
on the sloppy house, the overdone steak, or the bill from the hairdresser. 
The aggressor is readying himself to take out his accumulated frustrations 
on the partner, who takes it just so long and then begins to fight back. 

2 The second stage is often the battle royal itself. It consists of laying the 
cards on the table, meeting accusation with accusation, arguing, cajoling, 
wisecracking. The second stage may be relatively short, a matter of min- 
utes in fact, and again it may last in relatively nonviolent form for hours 
into the night, depending on the issues and the nature of the tensions 
which occasioned the conflict originally. 

3 The third stage begins as the aggressor recognizes a let-up in his inner ten- 
sions and as he communicates that fact to the other by offers of concilia- 
tion and peace. The defendant may by this time have built up tensions 
himself and may be unwilling to kiss and make up, which may prolong 
the battle until both are relatively more relaxed. The participants often 
find this stage the most difficult to bring about. Pride, hurt feelings, and 
resentment hold over in unfinished conflicts, and although the battle may 
be over the war never really ends. Covert conflict all too frequently con- 
tinues after the overt battling has subsided. More skilled couples prefer 
the third stage to any other, because it brings the release of tension and a 
glorious feeling that the world is right and marriage is "swell." For these 


couples conflict is not something to fear, but something to utilize in order 
to strengthen their relationship when tensions and misunderstandings 

Ways of Handling Conflict 

Opposition in marriage is universal and normal, but skillful handling of 
marital conflict must be learned. The channels of communication be- 
tween husband and wife can be kept open during conflict only if they 
each use gestures of acceptance of the other as they differ. In the old 
West there was a saying, "Smile when you say that, pardner; them's 
fighting words!" In marriage, opposition is less likely to arouse animosity 
if the partner prefaces his assertions with a family gesture of acceptance. 
Heat in an argument, and animosity directed against the person are 
joined in some conflicts, but they need not be threatening if the com- 
batant is secure, knows he is loved, and that the love is not conditional, 
dependent upon his agreeing with the spouse. 

There is real danger for those who have studied a little psychology, 
or a little psychiatry, and who attempt to apply the psychiatric labels to 
the partner under stress. It is rarely helpful, for instance, to say in the 
heat of the battle, "You are being hostile," or, "You are acting para- 
noid," or, "You are being regressive," and so on. 

An obvious requirement for successfully handling conflicts in mar- 
riage is previous experience with conflict in one's parental family or with 
one's peers. There needs to be a deep held conviction that problems 
can be solved and that consensus is possible. A happy by-product of 
observation of successful quarreling in one's parental family is the ab- 
sence of fear when conflict looms in later marriage. People who are 
afraid of combat are often the first to get hurt. 

Proud should be the family which has reared its children to be 
tough-minded, invulnerable to the glancing blows of inept opponents. 
Thin-skinned, sensitive people find it difficult to focus on the problem, 
tend to take opposition personally so that it is difficult to carry through 
a productive conflict which sticks to issues. 

There are still other ways of handling tensions than the forthright 
methods described above. In the film, Who's Boss, the husband warns 
his wife upon arrival that he has had a hard day and may prove irritable 
during the evening by twirling his hat, and his wife has a signal just as 
voiceless; she wears her apron astern. With this advance notice, the 


partner less fatigued can take some responsibility for providing a sound- 
ing board for the day's tensions. The wife may decide to "feed the 
beast" at least a snack, if supper is going to be late, knowing that hun- 
ger complicates any tensions which may have arisen. The husband may 
whisk the children out from under foot, knowing that preparing a hot 
meal requires supercoordination that demanding children can upset. 

Some married partners who perceive conflict ahead attempt to battle 
out their tensions first on the wood pile, or with a golf club, or bowling. 
The wife may scrub the floors or pound Sibelius out on the piano. 
When they return to face each other the original conflict is probably 
still unresolved but they are better prepared to deal with it, now that the 
feelings of unpleasantness have subsided. This is a species of running 
away, to fight another day. But the problem is ultimately tackled! 

Some individuals are teamed in marriage with partners unable to 
play any of these combatant roles. They are conflict shy, avoid trouble 
at all costs, and resort to substitutive activity to keep their marriage on 
an even keel. Daydreaming, rationalization, deprecation, martyrdom, 
illness, and idealization are some of the mechanisms employed to escape 
from the reality of the marriage. The conflict is handled by avoiding 
it, by the wife or husband becoming too ill to face it. Martyrdom is 
closely allied to illness as a way out of facing the conflict. The mar- 
tyred partner glories in the hurts and troubles which afflict her (it may 
be the husband) and thus avoids the real basis for conflict. Not un- 
common in workaday America is the man (or woman) who escapes the 
pain of discordant marriage by plunging into work and spending all his 
time at it. The daydreamer manages, on the other hand, to forget mar- 
riage entirely, or sufficiently so not to be bothered about real life situa- 
tions. In fantasy she creates a substitute husband who is kinder and 
more romantic than the real one. Rationalization, deprecation, and 
idealization are all mental mechanisms which enable the person to make 
the best of an unsatisfactory situation without really facing it squarely. 
We say, "Other people are worse off than we," or "I don't think I de- 
serve anything better; after all I'm just a working man," or "She's a good 
mother for the children." 2 The obvious difficulty with these substitu- 
tive adjustments is that they tend to mask the real issues. Even though 

2 One of the most exhaustive treatises of marital conflict and the mechanisms 
used to displace conflict is Harriet R. Mowrer, Personality Adjustment and Domestic 
Discord (New York: American Book Company, 1935). 


they start as temporary expedients in the trial and error adjustments of 
early marriage, the marriage structure may be based permanently on a 
substitutive basis. 

Marital Counseling as a Means of Meeting Progressive Conflict 

Marital counseling services are available in a number of large cities for 
couples whose marriage conflicts prove too much for them. The case 
of Charles and Edna demonstrates the possibilities of professional coun- 
seling services for cases of progressive domestic discord. 

Charlie is a young physician just getting a good start in building up 
a practice in a small Midwestern city. Three years ago he married 
Edna, who sang in the choir of the Methodist church. In their court- 
ship and engagement period they did all the things young lovers do, 
from discussing the kind of furniture they liked to the number of chil- 
dren they would have. Their marriage has been a happy one on the 
whole. Their year-and-a-half-old son is a darling whom they both adore. 
The practice is building up so well that they are making regular pay- 
ments on a little bungalow at the edge of town. Everything should be 
wonderful. They love each other, have their little home, their baby, 
and the promise of the kind of future they both have looked forward to 
all their lives. The one problem that has disturbed them both greatly 
has been their frequent and heated quarreling. Spats seemed to start 
up over nothing. But once they were started Edna found herself get- 
ting so mad she just couldn't contain herself, while Charlie shut up like 
a clam, and after he had stood just so much slammed out of the door, 
not to return for several hours. Edna felt that if Charlie loved her, he 
would be willing to stay and talk it out and make some rules so that 
they wouldn't fight over the same thing again. He felt that she was be- 
ing unreasonable most of the time and that she should be able to con- 
trol her temper better. The situation became so acute that several 
months ago they went to see their minister about it. He was an up- 
and-coming young pastor with a good training in helping people out of 
trouble, and after listening to both sides of the case, suggested that they 
go to the not too distant city and visit the marriage and family counsel- 
ing agency here. He told the couple what they might expect from such 
a service and said that he was suggesting that they go to such a center 
in much the same way as he would recommend a good hospital 01 doc- 


tor if some troublesome physical difficulty didn't respond to home 

Two week ends later the couple were found chatting pleasantly with 
the counselor. She assured them that she wasn't going to pry into any- 
thing that either of them didn't want to tell her, but that sometimes it 
helped to talk out bothersome problems with a person who was not tied 
up emotionally in the situation. She helped them both to see that she 
was not a Mrs. Ellery Queen who could unravel human mysteries in the 
first twenty minutes, but that her training might help her to suggest to 
both of them just where to look for the real reasons for their trouble. 
The counselor indicated that by working together, some suggestions for 
meeting the situation might emerge. The couple seemed relieved to 
find that the counselor was not assuming a know-it-all attitude and that 
she seemed to be the sort of friendly person who could be trusted to 
like you, whatever you told her. She looked as if she would hear your 
story without being shocked or making too much of it. 

Each described the situation as he saw it. The wife got so excited 
as she relived the last quarrel that she started to cry. Then feeling bet- 
ter, she leaned toward the counselor, saying earnestly, "You see how 
much this matters to me. If only we could get to the bottom of it all, 
Fd be the happiest girl alive." She was encouraged by the counselor's 
reflection that it was just that motivation to do something about it that 
was the most important step toward an effective solution. 

After several individual interviews and a simple personality study of 
each, the couple came in again for a joint conference. At that time 
they were each helped to share with the other the insights they had 
gained concerning their problems and to look at them together. It was 
slow going the first time, a new way of approaching the problem for 
both of them. By the third and fourth session with the counselor they 
were much more at ease, and had begun to talk in terms of what they 
would do now that they were returning home. 

Within three months they were both more comfortable with the 
whole idea of their quarreling, and neither of them became panicky 
when one started. As time went on, the quarrels grew less frequent and 
lasted for shorter periods. Each developed some understanding of what 
it was in their early experiences which made them feel so differently 
when a conflict situation emerged. Both began to develop some skill 
in handling themselves and in understanding the other when the fur 



"Oh, it's nothing to worry about. Every marriage requires 
an adjustment period/ 7 

Reproduced by special permission of the Saturday Evening 
Post, copyright 1943 by the Curtis Publishing Company 

began to bristle. Of course they still squabble, and they probably al- 
ways will. But they can take it now, and are comforted by the recogni- 
tion that there is less of it to have to take. 

The baby sister who recently arrived has added to their sense of be- 
ing a family, and to the growing satisfactions of their life together. As 
young Doc put it himself, ''No one could have told me a year ago that 
marriage could be like this. Why, with all the education I had, I never 
had the foggiest idea that you could be as scientific about your feelings 
as you can about a tonsillectomy. I want some books to read. This 
has all been an eye opener to me." 

Yes, it's an eye opener to many folks. Listening to the Mr. Agonys 
on the radio and reading the lovelorn columns in the daily papers give 
many people the idea that asking for help on a personal or family 
tangle is childish. Many are afraid that the problem will be taken out 
of their hands and that they will be told what to do without having a 
part in the decision. Others are skeptical about the type of person who 
acts as a counselor. Still others hesitate to tell their personal problems 


to a stranger who may not keep their confidences. All of these fears 
and reluctances are perfectly justified. There is a certain sanctity about 
our emotional and married lives; we don't want things spread all over 
town. It is this respect for the persons and for their confidences that is 
characteristic of a good counseling service and of a well-trained coun- 
selor. This is the big difference between the shoddy quackery that we 
are all afraid of and the reliable, modest, helpful counseling service 
which is becoming more widely available. 

Criteria for judging a good counseling service are fairly simple to 
enumerate. Briefly summarized they are as follows: 


1 Doesn't promise quick results or make snap judgments. 

2 Doesn't diagnose until after a careful study has been made. 

3 Keeps all information confidential. 

4 May charge nominal fees which are frankly discussed. 

5 May call in other trained specialists to help. 

6 Uses only trained professional workers from reputable colleges specializing 
in such fields as social work, human development, psychiatry, and related 
areas. (At least a master's degree in the specialized area is the usual pro- 
fessional standard.) 

7 Is affiliated with such reliable bodies as local councils of social agencies, 
and nationally with such professional organizations as the National Con- 
ference of Social Work, and the National Council on Family Relations. 

8 Does not advertise or try to drum up business, relying instead on slowly 
building up a clientele of satisfied users through referrals from other agen- 
cies and professional persons. 

9 May have a membership and a board of directors of reliable citizens who 
take the responsibility for supporting and interpreting the program to the 

What, then, have we said about marital conflict? First, much con- 
flict is normal. It performs a valuable function in maintaining emo- 
tional balance through the release of tensions accumulated in a work- 
aday world. Second, much of conflict in early marriage is understand- 
able as the outcome of merging two different sets of family habits into 
a new pattern a painful process which is speeded up by overt conflict 
and definition of the issues. This type of conflict tends to be progres- 
sively delimiting in the area it covers as the marriage continues and 


serves a valuable problem solving function. Third, in distinguishing be- 
tween productive and destructive quarreling, the former was shown to 
be limited, and directed at issues, problems, and conditions rather than 
at the person. Destructive quarreling concentrates on the ego of the 
participants and destroys the fundamentals on which the marriage is 

In line with the newer thinking concerning the nature of personality 
needs, this chapter has advocated more honesty in the husband and 
wife relationship. This involves facing issues squarely and master- 
ing the arts of conflict in rough and tumble discussion. It is not so much 
the conflict in marriage which is to be deplored as the inability to face 
the issues and battle them through. Conflict has a dual function: the 
solution of issues, and the release of the resentment and tensions which 
arise in every relationship. 

Every couple needs to learn the techniques of handling conflict situ- 
ations. Thousands of informed, mature married couples are reporting 
the feasibility of the approaches to conflict described in this chapter. 
To aid others less fortunately endowed, the inexperienced, the imma- 
ture, and the progressively discordant couples who are unable to handle 
the complexities of normal conflict in marriage, there are fortunately an 
increasing number of reputable marital counseling agencies close at 

Selected Readings 

DEARDORF, NEVA R., "A Puzzle in Cross Words," Survey, Vol. 49, pp. 288- 

FOLSOM, JOSEPH K., The Family in Democratic Society (New York: Wiley, 

1943), Chap. 13, "Marriage Interaction." 

HILL, REUBEN, "Quarreling Comes into Its Own." Parents' Magazine (Sep- 
tember, 1946), pp. 24 ff. 
LEVY, JOHN, AND MUNROE, RUTH, The Happy Family (New York: Knopf, 

1938), Chap. 5, "Living Together." 
MAGOUN, F. ALEXANDER, Love and Marriage (New York: Harper, 1948), 

Chap. 10, "Emotional Adjustment." 
MOWRER, HARRIET, "Discords in Marriage," in Becker, Howard, and Hill, 

Reuben, eds., Family, Marriage, and Parenthood (Boston: Heath, 1948), 

Chap. 12. 
NIMKOFF, MEYER, Marriage and the Family (Boston: Hough ton Mifflin, 

1947), Chap. 15, "Marital Adjustment." 
TRAVIS, LEE E., AND BARUCH, DOROTHY w., Personal Problems of Everyday 

Life (New York: Appleton-Century, 1941), chaps. 13-14. 


WALLER, WILLARD, AND HILL, REUBEN, The Family: A Dynamic Interpreta- 
tion (New York: Dryden Press, 1951), chaps. 14-15. 

Technical References 

BERKOWITZ, SIDNEY j., "An Approach to the Treatment of Marital Discord," 
Journal of Social Casework, Vol. 29 (November, 1948), pp. 355 ff. 

BURGESS, ERNEST w., AND LOCKE, HARVEY j., The Family: From Institution 
to Companionship (New York: American Book, 1945), Chap. 18. 

CUBER, JOHN F., Marriage Counseling Practice (New York: Appleton, 1948) . 

FRAZIER, E. FRANKLIN, "Certain Aspects of Conflict in the Negro Family," 
Social Forces, Vol. 10, pp. 7684. 

GLUECK, BERNARD, "Some of the Sources of Marital Discontent/' The Fam- 
ily, Vol. 16 (March, 1935), pp. 3 ff . 

HOLLIS, FLORENCE, Women in Marital Conflict (New York: Family Service 
Association of America, 1949). 

JUNG, MOSES, Modern Marriage (New York: Crofts, 1940), Chap. 4. 

KARLSSON, GEORG, Adaptability and Communication in Marriage (Upsala, 
Sweden: Upsala Sociological Institute, 1951). 

KEYSERLING, HERMANN, "The Correct Statement of the Marriage Problem," 
The Book of Marriage (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1926). 

KIRKPATRICK, CLIFFORD, "Techniques of Marital Adjustment," The Annals 
(March, 1932), pp. 179 ff. 

KRUEGER, E. T., "A Study of Marriage Incompatibility," Family, Vol. 9 
(1928), pp. 53-60. 

MUDD, EMILY H., The Practice of Marriage Counseling (New York: Associa- 
tion Press, 1951). 


"I've got some money saved from my 
newspaper route we can use, Dad/' 


Does sudden poverty make or break a family? 

Is desertion a poor mans divorce? 

What is meant by "death education"? 

What is the immediate reaction to death of a loved one? 

How can you handle the case of the "other woman"? 

What are the marks of recovery from a family crisis? 



in sight is tough; to take the death of a family member in stride is more 
difficult still; to adjust to the faithlessness of husband or wife requires 
insight and understanding; and to face possible desertion or divorce is 
beyond the powers of most young people. Yet these are the crises vir- 
tually all families face at some time. Death, the crisis least talked 
about of all, will normally hit the average family not once but several 
times. Sudden poverty hovers constantly over all but the wealthiest of 
families under an industrial economy which has produced cycles of in- 
flation, depressions, and widespread unemployment every five years 
since 1790. These are hard blows to take but they are part of living 
families must be prepared not so much to avoid them as to regard them 
as challenges. Indeed, there is no avoiding trouble if you want to have 
the satisfactions of living in a real world. The question which should 
be raised is not, "How can I avoid family crises?" but, "How can I 
learn to take them?" 

The first step in learning to take trouble in stride is to realize that 


other people the world over are facing similar problems not, "Why 
does all this have to happen to us?" but, "I guess we're having our turn 
now." Another step in learning to take it is to recognize the normality 
of problems and conflict. Much of the anguish which follows a crisis 
arises from the shock of the unexpected and the fear that no recovery 
is possible. The shock of the blow is easier to absorb if one is relaxed 
and unafraid of the pain which is bound to follow. Some families are 
so well prepared for trouble they grow under it. Their preparation for 
crises began back in courtship and early marriage, and even before. 

In the early years of marriage the husband-wife relation stabilizes, 
with each taking roles with prescribed duties, many of .. which continue 
after children arrive. Later, with the children, the family heads work 
out solutions to the problems of daily living. Members learn the an- 
swers to most questions, and they express it neatly 'This is the way 
we do it at our house," or, "I was brought up to think this way." Con- 
flicts are settled and decisions made regarding vacations, birthday par- 
ties, and school difficulties. Well-organized families have the resources 
for meeting these problems without too much distress and readjustment. 

When the family meets a situation for which there is no ready solu- 
tion from past experience and no immediate answer forthcoming from 
family members, then the family is said to face a crisis. Sudden poverty, 
infidelity, divorce, desertion, and bereavement are good examples of dis- 
ruptions which throw most families into temporary confusion. Some 
families may be permanently disabled, particularly if the remaining 
members are unable to absorb the duties of the persons incapacitated by 
the crisis. Other families are drawn closer together by the threat to 
their unity and survive the crisis stronger than ever. 1 

We have selected for discussion in this chapter crises that produce 
both demoralization (loss of morale and family unity) and dismember- 
ment (loss of family member): sudden impoverishment, infidelity, de- 
sertion, and bereavement. Divorce will be discussed in some detail in 
the next chapter. The variety of family breakdowns is large and worthy 
of our attention as we enter the discussion of family crises. 

What conditions must a family maintain to withstand the buffeting 
of circumstances in this turbulent country of ours? The family mem- 

1 It appears that middle-class families may have more troubles but weather them 
more successfully than working class families according to Earl L. Koos, "Class Dif- 
ferences in Family Reactions to Crises/' Marriage and Family Living (Summer, 
- 77~7 8 - 



Dismemberment only LOSS of child 

Loss of spouse 
War separation 

Demoralization only NonSUppOft 

Progressive dissension 


Sense of disgrace reputation loss 

Accession only Unwanted pregnancy 

Deserter returns 

Stepmother, stepfather additions 
Some war reunions 
Some adoptions 

Demoralization plus Illegitimacy 

dismemberment or Runaway situations 

accession Desertion 

Suicide or homicide 

bers must be physically fit and healthy; they must have adequate mental 
resources to cope with complexities and unpredictables; they must be 
adaptable and flexible; they must have achieved a workable adjustment 
to one another as members of a group and must be proud of their family 
membership; and they need to have an income from some source ade- 
quate to maintain a normal standard of living. In addition, to remain 
healthy, the family needs the support of neighbors and friends and of 
community agencies like the church and the school. Lacking any of 
these attributes, a family may muddle through for a period of years 
without breaking up. But in the face of a crippling crisis such a family 
will become badly disorganized, and dismemberment or demoralization 
will take place. 

2 Expanded by Reuben Hill in Families under Stress (New York: Harper, 
1949), p. 10, from a classification originally suggested by Thomas D. Eliot, "Han- 
dling Family Strains and Shocks," in Howard Becker and Reuben Hill (eds.), Fam- 
ily, Marriage, and Parenthood (Boston: Heath, 1948), p. 617, n. 


Down on Your Luck 

Sudden impoverishment is one of the crises which has been studied 
most completely, and there is considerable agreement concerning its 
effects on the family. One of the surprising findings from the depres- 
sion of 1929-36 was the ability of many families to absorb the shock of 
impoverishment without demoralization or great personal disorganiza- 
tion. 3 The reactions of the family when the breadwinner is laid off and 
the income ceases must be seen against the backdrop of associations 
within the family and the family's earlier reactions to crises. As chil- 
dren are added to the family, methods of adjustment develop and be- 
come habitual. Father traditionally earns the money and spends most 
of his day away from home. Mother runs the domestic end of the 
household, supplying services and supervision of the children, who are 
primarily consumers with minimum responsibilities and who are ac- 
customed to depend on parents for the satisfaction of their major wants. 
There comes a crash on the market people are thrown out of work. 
The loss of father's job and the subsequent loss of income disrupt this 
habitual arrangement. It leaves father with time on his hands at home, 
exercising unaccustomed supervision of children, and it places other 
members of the family in situations for which they have no accustomed 

One of the best descriptions of the nature of the crisis of impoverish- 
ment is drawn from a study of one hundred Chicago families: 

The development of a crisis often involves disorganization, that is, a 
breakdown in the organization of the family or person. The depression, as 
a crisis, may effect wide-spread disorganization, for the influence of the eco- 
nomic aspect of the family is so pervasive that lowered income may affect 
every realm of family life. The family may have to abandon certain objec- 
tives, such as buying a home or educating the children: it may be unable to 
conform to certain social and community standards in which it has always 
taken pride, such as the prompt payment of rent and bills or the mainte- 
nance of a certain type of home: it may be disturbed by the shifting of the 
dominant role, perhaps from the father to the mother or to a son or daugh- 
ter. Not only is the family organization shaken, but the members of the 
family most affected also may become personally disorganized over the loss 
of accustomed activities, a lowering of status, or a failure to meet responsi- 

8 Ruth S. Cavan and Katherine H. Ranck, The Family and the Depression 
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1938), pp. viii ix. 


bilities. This disorganization may be evidenced by worry, nervous break- 
downs, excessive fears, or demoralization. 

A crisis and the disorganization that accompanies it are highly charged 
with emotion, a reaction to be expected when habits become ineffective and 
new modes of response must be found and adopted. In the case of the de- 
pression the emotion tends to be fear fear of loss of status, of loss of money 
reserves, of failure to have needed food and clothing, of the necessity to go 
on relief. When re-employment is not found, worry, discouragement, and 
depression follow. Some people become resentful or angry, but most of 
them are simply afraid of a moneyless existence for which they have no ha- 
bitual conduct and no philosophy. For many people the condition of un- 
employment continues over many months, even over several years. It is 
almost impossible, however, for a highly charged emotional state to continue 
over a long period of time. Therefore, the period of unemployment cannot 
be considered as a static period. The situation, as it appears during the first 
shock of unemployment, is not the situation as it would be described six 
months or a year later. The unemployment may still exist, the income may 
still be low: but the experience of a person who has been unemployed for a 
year is not the experience of a person who has just been told that he has no 
job. At some point the disorganization reaches a climax and the extreme 
tension lessens. This turning point is psychological; it may not coincide 
with the time at which employment is lost. Self-confidence and financial re- 
sources may postpone the peak of the crisis until an indefinite number of 
months after the time when unemployment begins. Perhaps the disorgani- 
zation may be said to culminate when the family accepts the fact that it can 
no longer continue its old mode of life, when it admits that it can no longer 
control the situation by its old procedures. Such a realization usually brings 
with it severe emotional reactions which have perhaps been manifesting 
themselves in minor form during the period when the disorganization was 
developing. This period of acute emotional stress is usually terminated 
either by an adjustment to the situation or by the development of pathologi- 
cal reactions. If an adjustment to the new circumstances occurs, new roles 
are assigned, new functions defined, a new status accepted. This adjustment 
may take the same form as the old family organization, so that after the 
period of disorganization the old roles, functions, and status are readily re- 
sumed; or the adjustment may involve roles of a lower status, curtailed func- 
tions, and lowered community status. In the case of a break or failure to 
adjust, the family may disintegrate through separation of its members or the 
person may escape through mental illness or suicide. In any case, there is 
a tendency for the period of extreme disorganization to reach an end, either 
through reorganization or disintegration of the group or personality. 
. . . another factor must be considered: the habitual ways in which fami- 
lies and members of families have met earlier changes and crises. A crisis, 
because it sweeps away the customary ways of living, tends to expose the 
resources or deficiencies of the family or person. The family that, in the 


past, has faced a difficult situation squarely, evaluated it, and made adjust- 
ments to it may be expected to react in this way to the depression, even 
though there may be an initial period of disorganization. The family that, 
in the past, has refused to face issues or has evaded difficult situations may 
be expected to evade facing the changes in family life brought by unemploy- 
ment or decreased income. It seems clear from the present study that only 
rarely did the crisis cause the development of any totally new reactions. 
Rather, the crisis caused an exaggeration of previously existing family and 
personal habits. The man who occasionally drank began to drink to excess. 
The family that was harmoniously organized became more unified and the 
members more loyal. Reactions to the depression therefore cannot be stated 
categorically; the depression as a family and personal crisis must be viewed 
in the light of previous methods of meeting difficulties -used by the family 
or its members. 4 

Although no studies have yet been published on the subject, it would 
not be surprising to find that the impact of rapid fluctuations of in- 
come upward in war-boom prosperity days was fully as disorganizing for 
some families as the sudden impoverishment experienced by millions in 
the depression of 1929-36. In both instances the family is faced with 
a disruptive occurrence in which the old customs of the group and the 
old attitudes and habits of the family members are no longer consistent 
with the new situation brought about by the crisis. 

Desertion: A Breather from Marriage 

Closely allied with impoverishment and internal dissension is the crisis 
of desertion, which afflicts approximately 300,000 families a year. 5 It 
has been sometimes called the "poor man's divorce," because it occurs 
so frequently among the economically impoverished. As a forerunner 
of divorce, desertion is also relatively common in the upper classes. Still 
it is not divorce, because it has no legal status whatsoever. "It is the 
ruthless and lawless evasion of responsibilities, whereas divorce is at 

* Cavan and Ranck, op. cit., pp. 5-8. 

5 Jacob T. Zukerman estimates one million women and children are today the 
victims of family desertion; see his discussion, "A Socio-Legal Approach to Family 
Desertion," Marriage and Family Living (Summer, 1950), p. 83. As of June, 1949, 
roughly 50 per cent of the 536,714 families receiving federal-state support under the 
Aid to Dependent Children program were those in which father was absent from the 
home and not supporting the children. 


least legal and recourse to it is playing the game in the open, by the 
rules." 6 It differs from separation in that the latter includes some ar- 
rangement, voluntary or compulsory, for support of the deserted. 

Of all the crises, desertion is the most devastating on the morale of 
the family because of the difficulty in bringing about any program of 
stabilization. Reorganization of the family around the remaining mem- 
bers may be postponed indefinitely pending the return of the deserter. 
Realistic solutions are rejected in favor of wishful hope or cowering fear, 
depending on the attitudes toward the absent one. Moreover, if the 
deserter does return there is always the fear, or hope, that he may aban- 
don the family again in the face of difficulty. Desertion represents an 
escape of a sort, not unlike drinking or neurotic illness, which is con- 
veniently used by the offender both as a club or power device to control 
the family and as a means of release when family responsibilities become 
too confining. 

Men desert in significantly larger numbers than women. It is con- 
sidered socially much more criminal for mothers to desert their children 
than for fathers to do so. The desertion in many cases appears to be 
timed to avoid the economic responsibilities which pyramid as new de- 
pendents are added to the family. Social agencies report periodic de- 
sertion of husbands just before the birth of a new baby. The men 
sometimes return when the agency has paid the bills and the economic 
situation is stabilized. It is rare that a case can be so simply explained. 
Indeed, in most cases there exist in the family before desertion bitter 
dissension and deep emotional tensions. 7 The immediate economic 
pressures aggravate a situation which is already tense and which may 
precipitate action causing the man to flee. Because the deserter so 
often returns, desertion has been called a vacation from marriage, a 
"breather," during which each party has the chance to think the matter 
over. 8 

Although desertion may be the solution to a personal problem for 
the deserter, it leaves all the complications of a family crisis in its wake. 
The family members, after the first desertion at least, are unable to find 

6 Ray E. Baber, Marriage and the Family (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1939), 
p. 481. 

7 Almost 70 per cent of desertions studied in 1949 by Zuckerman occurred in 
the first ten years of marriage, op. cit., p. 84. 

8 Ruth S. Cavan, The Family (New York: Crowell, 1942), p. 287. 


any ready-made solution to their difficulties. Added to the economic 
embarrassment occasioned by loss of support is the threat to family 
pride and to family integrity. The children feel a psychological let- 
down and will interpret the father's departure as rejection, particularly 
if they loved him. The mother may rightly interpret it as a reflection 
on her personal attractiveness. The seeds for demoralization are sown 
with every member of the family. The deserted family is ripe for dis- 
organization, and is often unable to bring about a reorganization be- 
cause of the refusal to admit that the situation is permanent. Thou- 
sands eke out a living at a submarginal level for several weeks or months 
or years before reporting to a welfare agency, hoping against hope that 
a reunion will be possible to restore things as they were. 


One of the least understood yet most discussed crises in family life is 
marital infidelity. Like desertion it represents a solution of a personal 
problem for one member while creating a family crisis for the others. 

Few crises are filled with more insecurity and sense of loss in a mar- 
riage than that involved when "the other woman" or her male counter- 
part breaks the sense of unity so important to marital solidarity. The 
fear of faithlessness haunts many married people and is especially under- 
standable when the members of a pair are separated for long periods of 
time. The triangle rarely fits into a family circle. Even when popular 
opinion tended to be lenient in allowing a man to sow his wild oats, to 
have his fling, to go gaily through his dangerous forties and his treacher- 
ous fifties, his "poor little wife" was pitied as deeply as though she had 
been bereaved. Friends and neighbors watched to see how she was 
taking it. Her loss was accentuated by a keen sense of inadequacy and 
shame, for hadn't she failed to hold her man? 

With the explosion of the myth that "men are built that way," con- 
stancy has tended to be more widely expected of husbands. But the 
emancipation of women has been misinterpreted by some wives as li- 
cense and has made infidelity a double-edged sword that cuts both ways. 
Acceptance of woman's new freedom requires a whole new definition of 
our sex mores so that free interchange between people of both sexes may 
be possible socially, industrially, professionally, politically, intellectually, 
and financially without threatening the unique emotional sphere of 



the marriage relationship. This transition involves redefining what is 
"right" and what is "wrong" in many areas of common experience. 

The check test below will enable you to test the findings discussed 
in Chapter Seven, "Does Morality Make Sense?" Grandfather would 

CHECK YOURSELF Try out your own feelings about the following situations by check- 

ing all right, it depends, questionable, or wrong the conduct of the 
key person in the situation. 




1 A married secretary works late to get out some important 
letters for her boss. He sends out for sandwiches which 
they eat together at her desk. No one else is in the office 
at the time except the cleaning woman. 




2 A married woman doctor spends one night a week at a 
clinic in a poor section of town. It has been customary 
for some time for one of her colleagues (a married man 
physician ) to drive her home when they are both through 
at the clinic. 







3 A woman whose husband spends weeks at a time in 
Washington on business has taken in an older man war 
worker as a roomer. No one else lives in the home ex- 
cept her year-old child. 

4 A married enlisted man who hasn't been home in over a 
year is stationed near an urban servicemen's center. He 
has become acquainted with a hostess there, whose apart- 
ment he visited for dinner recently. 




5 A woman whose husband is overseas met one of his old 
friends recently while lunching downtown. He accepted 
her invitation to stay and have lunch with her as they 
talked of her husband's work and interest. As he left 
her at the conclusion of the luncheon, he invited her to 
come out and see his family soon. 






6 A man and a woman (both married but not to each 
other) have jobs as inspectors that involve their traveling 
together a great deal by car. Frequently they are gone 
from home for days at a time. When away from home, 
they stay in hotels near the plant they are visiting. She 
registers under her own married name and occupies a sep- 
arate room. 




7 A singer whose home is in Connecticut must spend two 
or three nights a week in town at her work. It is often 
necessary for her to work with her agent (a married man) 
and her accompanist (an attractive young bachelor) at 
her New York apartment in the evening. It is not al- 
ways possible for her husband to be present on the nights 
she must remain in town. 







8 A farmer's wife is alone with the hired man in the house 
every Saturday night while her husband takes stock to 
market (an all night job). 

9 An unusually talented nurse is unable to continue her pro- 
fessional work now that she is married because her hus- 
band does not trust her with "all those good-looking 
young doctors." 




10 A woman whose husband handles legal cases for a large 
feminine clientele insists that there always be a third per- 
son present when her husband is on a case. She threat- 
ens to divorce him if she ever finds that he has been with 
a woman alone anywhere at any time. 

undoubtedly check more of the situations as "questionable" or "wrong" 
than would members of our generation. The customs on which our 
codes of morality are based require a liberal use of insight into the 
consequences of behavior before applying them to specific situations 
like those above. Loyalty and fidelity are unusually hard to define in a 
world of changing values. Using the aids already given in the afore- 


mentioned chapter, however, one should be able to work out satisfactory 
answers to questions of marital fidelity. 

If we interpret fidelity narrowly, as many people do, to make the 
appearance of evil equivalent to the thing itself, any situation which 
looks as though it might be compromising would be interpreted as in- 
fidelity. Chaperons were provided to supply complete surveillance in 
the dim past when infidelity was suspected in any situation in which 
extramarital sex experience might take place. Again, if we were to 
brand as evidence of infidelity all expressions of affection for anyone 
other than the spouse, we should also run into a dilemma. The normal 
person becomes genuinely fond of a great many friends and associates 
of both sexes. Is a person faithless who feels genuine affection for many 
fine people? 

When we interpret loyalty, however, as mutual trust in each other 
and as faith in the marriage itself, neither the detective role called forth 
by the first definition nor the uncertainty inspired by the second is in- 
volved. The blow falls only if we find that our faith and trust have not 
been justified. It is only then that a crisis is said to occur. There is no 
crisis if there is no problem, or if the family members are equipped to 
meet whatever problem arises with their present resources. 

Why, Then, Faithlessness? Infidelity may almost always be seen as a 
symptom of unmet affectional need. The nature of the unmet need 
varies from couple to couple. Infidelity on the part of the husband 
may be an attempt to prove his manliness, or it may be a revolt against 
his conscience, 9 or again a method of working out little-understood im- 
pulses stemming from childhood experiences. The other woman may 
represent a refuge from an overprotecting wife, or she may be a means 
of attacking the wife. Extramarital affairs grow out of the same attrac- 
tion a forbidden piece of candy has for a hungry, undisciplined child 
further proof of the importance of emotional maturity in marriage. 
Monogamous marriage requires that the participants be sufficiently ma- 
ture to find in their relationship the satisfaction of their basic needs. 

The Crisis of Infidelity. The act of infidelity by itself may be relatively 
unimportant to the stability of the marriage. It is the interpretation of 
the infidelity which the couple make that introduces panic into the rela- 
tion; what the participants see as the motive behind the defection is 

9 See the discussion of "How Conscience Develops," pp. 135-137. 


more important than the act itself. To some couples the slightest flir- 
tation may prove calamitous, because it symbolizes much more than 
that to them. Others may tolerate without anxiety considerable swap- 
ping of partners and promiscuity in relations. A complicating factor in 
the interpretation of flirtations and unorthodox behavior with others is 
the health of the spouse. When he is bedridden, a man eyes his wife's 
recreational activities much more narrowly than when he is on his feet. 
Pregnant women are frequently suspectible to jealousy and read infidel- 
ity into situations where none exists. Jealousy is the product of in- 
security and fear the anxiety produced when one senses the possible 
loss of a love object. Unfortunately for the aggrieved person, jealousy 
may drive the mate into acts of infidelity which originally he may not 
have intended. 

What to Do? Meeting the crisis of infidelity with the necessary under- 
standing leads couples so threatened to marriage counselors and similar 
professional advisers. A good counselor can relieve the pain of the mo- 
ment and can often deal with the underlying causes of the infidelity, 
the unmet needs and frustrations of the couple. Seeing infidelity as a 
symptom needing treatment is a more scientific answer to the question 
of what shall be done about it than has heretofore been given. Such a 
patient platitude as "give and forgive," or the self-righteous assumption 
that evidence of infidelity should always be promptly punished with 
separation and divorce, fails to meet the issues and introduces no satis- 
factory readjustment or reorganization to the marriage. Even when the 
other affair has gone so far that the salvage of the marriage is impos- 
sible, the abandoned mate may be helped by counseling to understand 
what has happened so that his or her resources may be mobilized for 
building life stronger from then on. 

Death as a Family Crisis 

As it must come to every man. . . . 

Of all the crises which afflict a family none is more sure to occur and 
none receives less advance preparation than death. Its discussion is dis- 
couraged in our society, and anyone who mentions seriously the possi- 
bility of death entering his family is shunned as a bit morbid. Death 
as a subject of conversation is almost as taboo today as was sex fifty 
years ago. Today we prepare our children for the shock of the birth of 


a brother or sister, for the newness of the first day at school, and, in the 
case of a girl, for her first menstruation, but to prepare children for 
death in the family is almost unheard of. There is no program of death 
education to cushion the shock of this universal crisis. Not only chil- 
dren, but adults as well, are shielded from the realities mothers are 
not told when their children are dying patients afflicted fatally are 
not prepared for the event that is a certainty. 10 Until recently it was 
bad taste for picture magazines to show pictures of actual battle dead. 
In sum, there is virtually no preparation for the emotional shock that 
accompanies the death of a dear one. For that reason death is fre- 
quently a personal as well as a family crisis. 

The importance of death as a personal crisis lies not primarily in the 
fact of dying or ceasing to exist biologically, but in the emotional shock 
which follows the break in the unity of the family. Two things hap- 
pen to the member who is closely identified with his family: i. he 
senses that the circle is broken and that the family is threatened with 
dissolution (What will ever happen to us, now that mother has gone?); 
2. he senses that a part of himself as a person has been cut off, ampu- 
tated, so to speak. The closer the identification with the deceased, the 
more distressing is the sense of personal loss. 

The Shock Varies. The situation is eased considerably for family 
members who have left the parental home and have established families 
of their own. The emotional dependence which existed before their 
departure from their childhood home has been replaced by relative in- 
dependence, and the sense of loss is diminished accordingly. The pass- 
ing away of relatives, even brothers and sisters, brings less grief than the 
loss of parents with whom one is emotionally more closely identified. 
To make one further comparison, it might be safe to say that the ma- 
ture independent adult normally senses greater pangs of grief at the loss 
of husband or wife or child than at the loss of a parent from whom he 
has won independence. 

In general, death following a long-drawn-out illness brings less shock 
than sudden death for which no preparation can be made. Much of 
the mourning occurs in the period of illness as the relatives vacillate be- 
tween acceptance of the loss of the loved one and wishful thinking that 
a cure can be found. Gradually, as the medical evidence piles up, the 

10 Cavan, The Family, p. 317. 


negative prognosis is accepted, and the parties assimilate the idea of 
permanently losing the afflicted one. As accommodation to the idea of 
losing part of one's self takes place, the afflicted one becomes an object 
of pity rather than a symbol of personal loss. It is at that point that the 
expression may be heard, "I hope his suffering will soon be over." 

In time of war, bereavement is lightened to some extent by the pub- 
lic recognition achieved and by the realization that others face equal or 
worse crises. Although the hole that any one person leaves can never be 
completely filled, there is less of a break in family unity, because the 
other members have already made some adjustment to the absence of 
the member at the time he entered the armed services. The shock is 
lessened by the presence of neighbors and friends who offer understand- 
ing and genuine comfort. Moreover, death in wartime is given purpose 
and made meaningful both at home and in the war zones. In their ad- 
justment, family members plunge into the common task with renewed 
determination to bring to fulfillment the goals for which he died. 

On the other hand, bereavement in time of war is the less bearable 
because the victims are taken in the prime of life. The uncertainty of 
death in a "missing in action" notice leads family members to dis- 
believe later notices of death. For some people, only the rites of death 
serve as corroborators of fact, and the overseas death is hard to realize. 
When the body is not in evidence, it is easier to convert grief into dis- 
belief. 11 

To the person away from home who loses a member of his family 
the bereavement may be very difficult. He may feel for a time that the 
bottom has fallen out of life. He will miss the relief which comes in 
joining with relatives and friends in mourning. He finds that a part of 
himself as a person may no longer be responded to and that there is all 
too little help in healing the wound. Every opportunity should be 
taken to talk about the loved one with ministers, counselors, and others 
who are professionally trained to listen and understand. Letters home 
can draw off the overflow of emotions if one can express himself on pa- 
per and has the courage to let himself cry during the process whenever 
he feels like it. Weeping has already been mentioned as an effective 
tension-dispelling device. A person in mourning should allow himself 
the same privileges in the interest of recovery. 

11 Thomas D. Eliot, " - of the Shadow of Death," The Annals of the Ameri- 
can Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 229 (September, 1943), p. 94. 


F/rsf Reactions. Even when anticipated, the actual death of a be- 
loved person comes as a shock, and the first reaction is usually one 
of disbelief. A numbness comes over the bereaved and acts as a buf- 
fer to protect him from a shock that is too devastating to absorb all 
at once. It is quite common for persons to feel that the entire experi- 
ence is a dream, unreal, and that they will awake to find things as they 

The apparent calmness of the bereaved mourners immediately after 
receipt of the news is often a detachment cultivated to protect the self 
from the total reality. It may represent a repression of the news into 
the nether depths of the mind, where conflict may rage at great emo- 
tional expense to the individual. As realization intrudes upon con- 
sciousness, periods of uncontrolled abandon may appear, with weeping, 
cursing, self-blame, even self-injury. Accompanying these reactions is 
the longing for that part of the self which has been amputated: the be- 
loved, now irrevocably departed, is relinquished with the greatest re- 
luctance. The mind will play strange tricks on the bereaved he will 
hear the voice of the departed, sense the presence of the other, and 
dream that they are together again. Clothing, mementos, locks of hair 
of the deceased, will be preserved as symbols to summon the presence 
of the departed. In extremity, the mourner may in his despondence be 
impelled to commit suicide to rejoin the other. These are first reactions 
which carry on after the rites of the funeral period are over. The rou- 
tines of the mortuary, of funeral and burial, serve to dispel the illusions 
of disbelief and to channelize the emotions into approved lines. The 
rituals of funeral and burial are performed by professionals who take 
the responsibilities off the hands of the bereaved, yet give them the 
maximum opportunity for undisturbed grief. 

In contrast to the well-defined routines of the funeral is the lack of 
definition for readjustment afterward. The professional undertaker re- 
tires from the scene, and no other professional person enters to aid the 
members of the family in the next phase of their readjustment. Each 
family is left more or less to shift for itself, with occasional help and ad- 
vice from well-meaning relatives and friends. The family members are 
urged to resume normal activities as soon as possible no time is al- 
lowed in our society for unnecessary show of grief, although it is not 
considered good taste for a widow or widower to remarry in less than a 
year's time after the funeral. Three days' sick leave are allowed the 


worker in civil service positions for funeral and mourning. He is ex- 
pected back at work after that. Life must go on! 

Trial and Error Adjustments. The first reactions to death are largely 
protective, designed to save the personality from serious damage. Even- 
tually the bereaved seeks to assimilate the realities and makes trial and 
error attempts to pick up the threads of normal living. There are alter- 
nate periods of plunging into work and activity and of lassitude and de- 
pression. As time passes, periods of activity become longer and the 
periods of depression become shorter and less frequent. During the 
person's attempts to arrive at some pattern of stabilized behavior, 
he finds it necessary to force himself to respond to people, to children, 
and to his work. He resumes his duties with great effort at first, but 
gradually the routines are assumed and he rejoins the workaday world. 
There are also during this period frequent attempts to secure attention 
through wearing mourning symbols the desire to tell of troubles 
to others is evident. There is much sharing of fate with children and 

Back in Life's Channel. As a reward for the many trial and error at- 
tempts at resuming normal activities, a new life organization will de- 
velop, and the bereaved will achieve the permanence and stability of 
settled living. The bereaved has accepted the death of the beloved and 
has made the experience a part of his personality, instead of walling it 
off and struggling against it. He is now able to resume relationships 
with others and may even substitute these relationships for those he had 
with the deceased. Religion is often a major source of support at this 
time, as we shall show in Chapter Nineteen. 

One of the characteristics of the recovery is the emphasis upon par- 
ticipation in activities, upon entering into community services and other 
socially approved endeavors. If the deceased was active in any of these 
there is often an identification by the mourner in carrying on the work 
the other had started. 12 

Successful recovery from bereavement means gradual relaxation of its 
tensions and frustrations in favor of some more satisfactory or at least toler- 
able patterns of behavior. The bereaved find someone else through whom 

12 Adapted from David Martin Fulcomer, 'The Adjustive Behavior of Some 
Recently Bereaved Spouses" (doctoral dissertation, ms., Northwestern University, 
1042), quoted in Eliot, " of the Shadow of Death," pp. 88-Q2. 


they can satisfy their affectional needs: or they find religious beliefs which 
fully reconcile them; or they reabsorb their energies and redevote their af- 
fections in some life work as an alternate channel; or they assume the role 
of the deceased or project his personality by some conspicuous service in his 
name, or through creation of some appropriate and constructive memorial. 
Even gradual relaxing through forgetting . . . may produce successful re- 
covery. . . . 

. . . One may never feel a decision to take up life again: it is, in a sense, 
life which takes one up again. Mourning may never be absolutely finished, 
but it gradually approaches zero as a limit. 13 

CHECK YOURSELF When condolences cease to arrive and the world moves on, there is 

apt to be a slump in the adjustment process. Which of the follow- 
ing are evidences of successful and which ot unsuccessful recovery 
from bereavement? 

Successful Unsuccessful 
1 Grief comes to be enjoyed for the attention it brings. 

2 Energies and affections are reabsorbed in some life work. 

3 The goals of the deceased are assumed in part by the be- 

4 Religion is abandoned because of failure to bring comfort. 

5 Gradual relaxing occurs through forgetting. 

6 Place at the table is set for the return of the deceased. 

7 Ability is developed to talk about the deceased with warmth 
and appreciation unmixed with pain and self-pity. 

* KEY 9 > 'I :|njs$aaDnsun L 'S ' 'Z M n J ssaD:>n S 

Ways of Meeting Family Crises 

The family may be said to face a crisis when it meets a situation for 
which there is neither a ready solution from past experience nor an im- 
mediate answer forthcoming from family members. Individual families 
face the crises of sudden poverty, infidelity, desertion, and bereavement 
in many ways. By way of summary we show next, in greatly tele- 
scoped form, the steps which family members take in the tedious proc- 
ess of adjustment to any one of the major crises we have discussed: 14 

13 Thomas D. Eliot, "Bereavement: Inevitable but Not Insurmountable," in 
Becker and Hill (eds.), op. cit., p. 664. 

14 Modified and adapted from a chart developed by Eliot, "Handling Family 
Strains and Shocks," Becker and Hill (eds.), op. cit., pp. 637-638. 


First, comes the news of the event, followed by: 

Second, prompt recognition of the facts or refusal to believe its actuality, 
failure to face facts, and 

Third, prompt, realistic action in the emergency or escape mechanisms such 
as fainting, suicide, running away, drinking, tantrums, or violence; 

Fourth, a period of rationalization, of fixing the blame, of clearing the self 
of responsibility, after the immediate situation has been met in some way, 
to protect the ego. 

Fifth, a struggle to attain a livable balance, a trial and error search for solu- 
tions; depending on the previous ways of meeting crises the person will 
follow one or another of the major patterns of readjustment below: 

a. Escape: e.g., desertion, divorce, suicide, enlistment, dependency, de- 
lusions, drink, drugs, distractions, vice. 

b. Submission or defense: e.g., apathy, resignation, religion. 

c. Compensatory efforts within the existing and accessible resources of 
the family's members: 

1 Redoubled work. 

2 Substitution of new channels of income, affection, energy. 

3 Persuasion. 

4 Appeal to others for help: relatives, church, charity, clinics, relief, 

Sixth, attainment of a final adjustment and solution of problems by the in- 
telligent use of new resources and the renewal of routines consistent with 
the new situation, enabling a new life organization to emerge a re- 
establishment of stable habits, self-control, reorganized economic life, 
and normal social life for those who do not find permanent adjustment 
in one of the phases of stage five. 

Selected Readings 

CAVAN, RUTH, The Family (New York: Crowell, 1942), Part III. 

DUVALL, EVELYN MiLLis, Facts of Life and Love (New York: Association 
Press, 1950), Chap. 13, "Love Out of Bounds." 

DUVALL, SYLVANUS M., Men, Women, and Morals (New York: Association 
Press, 1952), chaps. 7 and 8. 

HARKNESS, MARJORY GANE, "Notes on Being a Widow," Atlantic Monthly 
(November, 1935), Vol. 156, No. 5. 

KOOS, E. L., Families in Trouble (New York: King's Crown Press, 1946). 

LEVY, JOHN, AND MUNROE, RUTH, The Happy Family (New York: Knopf, 
1938), Chap. 3. 

WALLER, WILLARD, AND HILL, REUBEN, The Family: A Dynamic Interpreta- 
tion (New York: Dryden Press, 1951), Part VI. 


Technical References 

ANGELL, ROBERT c., The Family Encounters the Depression (New York: 
Scribner, 1936). 

BAKKE, E. WRIGHT, The Unemployed Worker (New Haven: Yale University 
Press, 1940). 

BECKER, HOWARD, "The Sorrow of Bereavement," Journal of Abnormal and 
Social Psychology (January-March, 1933), Vol. 27, pp. 391-410. 

BECKER, HOWARD, AND HILL, REUBEN (EDS.), Family, Marriage, and Parent- 
hood (Boston: Heath, 1948), especially chaps. 21-22. 

CAVAN, RUTH, AND RANCK, KATHERiNE, The Family and the Depression (Chi- 
cago: University of Chicago, 1938). 

ELIOT, THOMAS D., "War Bereavements and Their Recovery," Marriage and 
Family Living (February, 1946), Vol. 8, pp. 16. 

FRITZ, M. A., "A Study of Widowhood," Sociology and Social Research 
(July-August, 1930), Vol. 14, pp. 553-559. 

HILL, REUBEN, Families under Stress (New York: Harper, 1949). 

KOMAROVSKY, MIRRA, The Unemployed Man and His Family (New York: 
Dryden, 1940). 

SHAND, ALEXANDER, The Foundations of Character (London: Macmillan, 
1914), pp. 301-369. 



The Mention of the Possibility of nivorc& 


Why do people who talk so much about getting a divorce take so long to 

make up their minds? 

Is it true that you have to make a pretense of fighting a divorce in court even 

if you both want it? 
Do people who get a divorce live happily ever after? 


was the concluding sentence in Jane Black's letter to her brother John 
about her marital difficulties. 

John Barton leaned back in his chair and puffed away at his pipe. 
What had there been in this marriage of Jane's which was so different 
from the marital felicity of his other sisters? The union had been 
teetering from the start but, because of the five children, had lasted 
twenty-two quarrelsome years. 

Now it looks as if divorce is a certainty. "Eric comes home and 
switches on the radio, then quick switches it off loudly to remind me 
that I objected six months ago to a certain program- he has never 
since listened to the radio in my presence. He used to make cracks at 
me for listening to the radio serials and claimed the announcers sounded 
like oafish clucks. Then for about two years he would leave the radio 
on all the time himself, day and night no discrimination whatsoever. 
I can't seem to please him and I swear I'm not going to try any longer. 
He has fixed it so I only get $500 insurance if he dies; the rest goes to 
the children. The other day he said his brother had the right idea, he 
got rid of his first wife. And I told him his brother also got rid of his 


second and third and wasn't happy yet. He glared at me and swore he 
wouldn't live with me the rest of his life; life was too short. I told him 
I would be happier if he started his lawyer at work on the divorce right 
away but he wouldn't get the children, if I had to carry the case to the 
Supreme Court. He shut up like a clam and hasn't spoken to me since 
and that was three weeks ago." 

John's difficulty in diagnosing his sister's troubles is understandable. 
Marriages which end in divorce are not greatly different from some 
which persist until death. There are marriages which never see a di- 
vorce court but in which the atmosphere is much more hostile than in 
homes about to be broken. Conflict is not unique to unhappy mar- 
riages but is present in all homes. Much of the contention is normal 
and understandable, indeed almost inevitable, if marriage is to function 
as a release from tensions. Only perfectionists would consider the 
bickering of family members resulting from the inevitable collision of 
wishes as evidence of intolerably unhappy marriage. 

Many divorces occur between ostensibly congenial couples who may 
only have needed help at one point to work out misunderstandings 
which they were emotionally incapable of handling alone. (Remember 
the case of the doctor and his wife who profited so greatly from marital 
counseling, p. 250.) Another reason for the similarity between mar- 
riages which persist and those which end in divorce is the fact that 
many marriages which are chronically unhappy don't break up. These 
produce psychologically if not legally broken homes, which are quite as 
devastating on the personality of children. There are, therefore, mar- 
riages which might better be dissolved by divorce, and there are mar- 
riages which have been broken by divorce but might have been salvaged 
by a marital counselor. 

Causes of Divorce 

The search for causes of divorce has been a popular quest, and the con- 
clusions vary from the simple theory of temptation by the Evil One to 
the complex theories of the sociologists and psychiatrists. 

The most popular explanation of divorce by the general public is the 
moralistic one. The marriage has been solemnized and sanctified and 
the couple are living in blessed righteousness, when one of the mates 
commits an unpardonable sin against the marriage. The moralists say 


that he chooses to do it because of a depraved will. No other reason is 
necessary. The unpardonable sin is, of course, adultery, which is the 
only bona fide ground for divorce among deeply moralistic folk. 1 

Economic Factors and Divorce. A series of studies have established the 
close relationship between low income and high divorce rates. Divorces 
are disproportionately found in areas of high mobility, dense popula- 
tion, low home ownership, high delinquency, and high proportion on re- 
lief, which are also areas of low income. 2 Similarly divorce varies sharply 
by occupational groupings. "Proneness to divorce" increases from an 
index of 67.7 for professional and semiprofessional groups to 180.3 ^ or 
nonfarm laborers and 254.7 ^ or serv "i ce workers, according to a sample 
survey of the Census Bureau in April, 1949- 3 Very much the same pat- 
tern was found true of a random sample of divorced couples in Detroit 
by Goode in which the unskilled are reported to have had divorce rates 
roughly three times those of the professional and proprietary classes. 

The relationship between economic factors and divorce is more 
subtle than the juxtaposition of income and divorce rates can possibly 
depict. In a society in which the living is not made by family members 
working together, but is earned by the breadwinner, the symbolic char- 
acter of income is magnified. Conflict rages on the economic front 
when the interpersonal relations in other areas of life are strained. The 
"theme of complaints" from research on family difficulties places 
"money matters" in the top position in Terman's list of husband-wife 
complaints. 4 Economic strain is possibly greater in the lower strata and 
more likely to be expressed in noneconomic situations such as sex and 
repudiation of marital responsibilities. Whereas the wife may with- 
draw sexual favors and affectional response, the husband withdraws eco- 

1 A major shortcoming of the moralistic theory is that very few divorces occur 
as a result of adultery. Kinsey's reports on extramarital intercourse for American 
males places adultery in the vicinity of 50 per cent of married men interviewed, 
whereas the reporting of adultery as grounds for divorce in 1948 was only 2.6 per 
cent of all divorces reported in the twelve states making up the area reporting di- 
vorce statistics to the National Office of Vital Statistics. See Divorce and Annul- 
ment Statistics: Specified States, 1948 (Washington: Federal Security Agency, Au- 
gust 7, 1950), Vol. 35, No. 12. 

2 See summary of studies by Bossard, Shroeder, Weeks, and Click in the 
article by William J. Goode, "Economic Factors and Marital Stability," American 
Sociological Review (December, 1951), Vol. 16, No. 6, pp. 803-812. 

8 Ibid., p. 805. 

4 Lewis M. Terman, Psychological Factors in Marital Happiness (New York: 
McGraw-Hill, 1938), p. 105, cited in Goode, op. cit., p. 807. 


nomic support as the spiral of interpersonal conflict reaches a climax. 
Goode points out that this withdrawal of economic support is laden 
with less guilt at the lower-class levels because one of the components 
of the attitudinal complex of the lower-class father toward his children 
is a tendency to think of them as belonging more to the mother than 
to himself. They are primarily her task and responsibility, and her wan- 
ing loyalty relieves him of at least some of his guilt concerning the chil- 
dren. If she no longer "deserves" his support, then neither do they. 5 
These generalizations provide ample evidence of the complexities of the 
interrelationships of economic factors and the phenomenon of divorce. 
Closely related to the economic as a theory of divorce causation is the 
explanation provided by social changes as they affect family instability. 
It bears close appraisal at this point. 

Social Change. A theory of the cause of divorce is that it has in- 
creased with the growing stresses and strains on the family. The strains 
to which the larger social structure has been subjected have been regis- 
tered on the family, which is the smallest social unit. Wherever the 
family finds itself cut off from the props of social control and social 
pressure, divorce increases. The shifting of population from the influ- 
ences of stable, controlled rural life to the anonymity of the city ac- 
counts in part for the weakening of millions of family groupings in 

One expression of social change has been the improved opportuni- 
ties for women both in education and in employment. Marriage for 
the educated woman capable of earning her living ceases to involve 
merely a meal ticket and becomes a more companionable, although a 
more precarious, arrangement. Women today are economically more 
independent and enjoy increased equality in the courts. These factors 
explain in part the greater ease with which they obtain divorces in our 

One way to test the theory that divorce is a function of social change 
is to observe the divorce rate during periods such as war or revolution, 
when social change reaches its zenith. Inventions pour in, new ways of 
life are devised and accepted, populations are on the move, expediency 
is the watchword. 

A glance at the figure will show that there was a 40 per cent increase 

5 Goode, op. cit., p. 809. 



in divorce rates immediately following World War I. In the period of 
prosperity in preparing for World War II (1938-40) the number of di- 
vorces reached a high of one divorce for every five marriages. It reached 
the peak of one divorce for every two and one half marriages in 1946 
and in some boom communities more divorces were recorded during 
this period than there were marriage licenses issued. 

The social change theory explains why there are more frequent di- 
vorces than there used to be but not why particular marriages are 
broken. The breakdown of neighborhood controls, the declining size 
of the family, the decline in the number of hours spent together, and 
the increasing mobility of people have operated to make individual fam- 
ilies more susceptible to disorganization, but these changes operate on 
most American marriages without producing equally divisive effects. 
We must turn elsewhere for the balance of the explanation. 


Ratio of divorces 
per 1000 marriages 




1910 1915 1920 1925 1930 1935 1940 1945 


Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Statistical Bulletin, Vol. 30 (April, 1949). 



incompatible Personalities. Another explanation which gives us some 
clue to prediction is offered by the marriage counselors, the psycho- 
analysts, and kindred psychotherapists. In the early childhood experi- 
ences in the parental family preferences are formed which make it easier 
to get along with some persons than with others. In a happy marriage 
the partner must meet some of the preferred childhood specifications, 
which often include resemblance to the father, the mother, or in in- 
dividual cases, the favorite brother or sister. 

Unfortunately we not only form preferences in childhood but we 
also develop pet hates for Jim Mallory who struck you when you cut 
across his lawn, or that old witch Cissy Perkins who peevishly threw 
sticks at your pup! The childhood memories do not lose their power to 
influence us as adults, although we may come to forget the source of our 
hates. Marriage to an otherwise charming person who faintly reminds 
one of a pet hate may soon, for no other reason, prove intolerable.* 

Patterns of dependence and aggression also appear to be important 
in achieving cohesion in marriage. Burgess and Wallin in their experi- 
ments in marital prediction are finding the factor of interdependence 
important. 7 Certain combinations of roles work out well. A girl raised 
to be dependent on her father makes a good partner for a man raised to 
assert himself in a family in which the father was dominant. On the 
other hand, a man who is raised to be dependent on a strong female 
character may, if he marries a dependent feminine type of woman, find 
himself in trouble. The marriage may eventually end in divorce as they 
struggle over who is to be dependent upon whom. 

These illustrations may sound extreme, but they reveal quite clearly 
the personality twists which make one person bad company for another. 
Because certain personalities are what they are, there must be conflict 
between them as they live together in marriage. The irritations go 
deeper than the conscious mental states and date back to patterns fixed 
in early childhood, and for that reason don't lend themselves to self- 

6 In order to identify himself with the problem, the reader should think back 
over his experiences since childhood and see what situations produced the following 
feelings, common to the members of a divorcing pair: (i) feelings of revulsion in the 
presence of another person with whom you were forced to associate continuously; 
(2) desire to escape an intolerable situation which you were unable to handle with 
the resources you had at hand; ( 3 ) impulses to argue with certain types of personali- 
ties no matter which side of the fence they were on, impulses to show them up and 
reveal their stupidities. 

7 E. W. Burgess and Paul Wallin, Engagement and Marriage (Philadelphia: 
Lippincott, 1953). 


doctoring. The quarrels are of the sort which never become resolved 
and never stop, because they are due to blockings or repressions out of 
the control of the conscious mind. They concern little things which 
the couple have insufficiently talked out but which have become so 
much a part of them that they can no longer stop quarreling long 
enough to talk them out. 

Escape and Run. 8 What are the differences between couples whose 
quarrels are chronic and couples whose quarrels become progressively 
more bitter and destructive? The latter furnish a great number of our 
cases of divorce and separation, and an examination of their make-up 
may give us a clue to the causes of individual divorces. 

One difference is the presence in one partner of the desire to escape, 
a desire strong enough to involve willingness to pay the penalties of di- 
vorce. This desire to escape may be traced to infantile techniques of 
handling situations by running away, but is more often the result of the 
shifting of love from the spouse back upon himself. From a normal 
heterosexual attachment a narcistic self-love is produced in which the 
spouse becomes a source of bitterness, a thwarting agent from which 
escape is imperative. The whole marriage comes to be looked upon as 
a frustration. The desire to escape becomes even stronger if another 
more suitable love object comes into view. The love will be transferred 
to the new object in what is known as "a rebound," and the desire to 
escape from the original marriage is accelerated. He is falling out of 
love with one as he falls in love with another! The desire to escape, 
then, is one of the observable differences between couples who are fight- 
ing in order to separate and those who fight but don't separate. 

To answer the question of why one marriage ends in divorce and an- 
other persists requires investigation of the individual marriage. Aside 
from the social changes which have made marriage precarious for all 
couples, the following are helpful explanations of divorce in individual 
marriages: the unfortunate combination of personalities, the carry-over 
of childhood infantilisms, and the presence in one of the partners of the 
desire to escape. All these factors seem to explain in individual cases 
the progressive conflict and alienation which precede separation and di- 

8 We are indebted to Willard Waller for many of the ideas expressed in this 
and the next subsection. See The Family: A Dynamic Interpretation (New York: 
Dryden Press, 1951), pp. 509-527. 


A glance at the happier side of the picture reveals positive reasons for 
the high cohesiveness of certain marriages in the face of social change 
and challenging crises. Combinations of personalities which are good 
for one another, the presence of interdependence, emotional maturity 
and the ability to take crises as they come, the presence of resources to 
meet crises, and the habit of happiness and happy relationships with 
parents and brothers and sisters, all seem to characterize stable and per- 
manent marriages. 9 

Alienation: Courtship Reversed 

The transition from single to married life is relatively easy because all 
our previous training leads to marriage, and our own inner motivations 
prompt us to accept it. The whole procedure is not unlike canoeing 
downstream with well-wishers on shore waving us along. Our progress 
is accomplished more or less without effort because it all seems natural 
and right. 

In the stages preceding the actual divorce many of the events of the 
courtship are experienced with reverse emphasis. The differences lie in 
the reluctance with which each step is taken and the regret apparent as 
the inevitable separation approaches. Neither partner likes to admit he 
has failed in this life project which started with so much promise and 
expectation of success. Even after the divorce, marriage exerts a strong 
back-pull, and the number of reconciliations of divorced couples attests 
to the strength of the desire to make marriage a success. 

In our discussion of courtship we showed how each step in the proc- 
ess was a further commitment and how obligations were built up until 
a summatory effect was produced. The process by which the couple be- 
came permanently involved developed a movement of its own which 
carried the couple along. Alienation too is a similar development, 
which moves step by step from married life to separation and readjust- 
ment to life without the partner. 

The accompanying table shows the typical stages of both processes. 
Alienation, like courtship involvement, proceeds to its conclusion in a 
series of commitments which are not easily renounced. Each response 
leads to the next in line, and the motive for each new step is furnished 

9 For more details, see Chapter Fifteen, "What Holds a Marriage Together," 
pp. 302-318. 


by the experiences up to that point alienation cannot easily be ar- 
rested. After each crisis the relationship is redefined on a level of 
greater alienation. The destructive quarrels which are so characteristic 
of the marriages ending in divorce are often followed by intervals of 
comparative peace in which the couple make a determined attempt to 
adjust to life with each other. The conflict picks up again, however, 
around another sore point and continues until the couple can bear the 
pain of separation more comfortably than continued opposition. This 
concept of alienation will be clearer as we describe the critical points in 
the movement from early marriage to separation. 


Boy meets girl First mutually destructive 

Going together quarrel 

Eye-opener quarrel Affectional responses withheld 

Going steady Mention possibility of divorce 

Public begins talking Others find out 

Mutual understanding Move into separate bedrooms 

Mention possibility of engagement Break up housekeeping 

Engagement announcement Divorce agreed upon 


Alienation Crises 

Quarrels occur in any marriage, as we have shown in the chapter on con- 
flict. It is the mutually destructive type of quarrel which is most diffi- 
cult to handle and which characterizes the progressive alienation of 
couples heading for divorce. If the process can be said to begin any- 
where, it probably starts with the first brutal truth session in which both 
partners frankly expose their real feelings about the other. We have de- 
fined quarrels of this type as destructive because they concentrate on the 
person rather than on issues or conditions. They leave the relation with 
fewer assets than it had before. They attack the ego and reduce the 


self-respect by which persons live. Constructive quarrels, in contrast, 
make the marriage stronger through a redefinition of the situation caus- 
ing the conflict. The destructive quarrels are progressive and succeed 
eventually in alienating couples to the point where separation is in- 

Aftectional Responses Withheld. Disturbance shows up relatively early 
in the affectional response area. "Don't come near me until you're 
ready to say you're sorry," was Jane's response to Jim after their first ex- 
plosive upset. The withholding of affectional response quite naturally 
broadens to include the sex life of the couple, in which antagonism is 
quickly reflected. There could well have been excellent sex adjustment 
to begin with, but through loss of understanding neither feels right 
about continuing intimate relations. Some people withhold affection 
to punish the mate just as they do to punish a child. Withholding of 
affection in marriage always evokes insecurity and anxiety, particularly 
for those individuals who have identified the good marriage entirely 
with continuous love intimacies. The familiar Hollywood pattern of 
early divorce is the only remedy that the over-romantic have devised to 
meet this situation. For most marriages the withholding of affection 
and sex intimacies is merely a first symptom of difficulty, to be followed 
by many more severe crises before divorce takes place. 

Mention of the Possibility of Divorce. In the course of conflict there 
comes a great moment when mention is made of the possibility of di- 
vorce, the stage roughly equivalent to the declaration of love in the 
courtship process. Each member of the pair has thought of separation 
but neither has mentioned it, not knowing what the response would 
be. 10 One should differentiate between the banter of husband and wife 
in which the threat of divorce is used playfully and the more critical use 
of the threat among couples in serious conflict. The blow falls hardest 
on the one who is told. He is the one who must take the role of oppos- 
ing the divorce and usually holds that role to the end. But there is an 
interdependence, which may seem to some perverted, each needing the 
other to continue the conflict, to work out the hostility. Both persons 
are really alienated, but one presses the fighting and one opposes the 
divorce. Each requires the continued participation of the other; in- 
deed, each would be disappointed if the other stopped struggling. The 

Waller, The Family, p. 514. 


passive one suffers more intensely, but has the virtuous feeling of being 
right, while unconsciously desiring to break the relation. 11 The immedi- 
ate effect of the mention of the possibility of divorce, then, is one of 
restraint from strife, but when the hostilities begin again the couple 
have become used to the idea of divorce, and definite steps are taken in 
that direction. 

Others Find Out. At some point the fiction of solidarity is broken as 
the public is let in on the couple's troubles. The relationship changes, 
goes on a different basis. The expectation of success which was so im- 
portant in holding the marriage together originally is replaced with the 
admission of failure. For many sensitive couples this is the master 
symptom of alienation: "People are talking about us." The couple 
have lost face and are no longer a pair in the eyes of the public. Invita- 
tions which include them both will decrease as friends refuse to take the 
risk of a row. 

The public divides into two camps, friends who are for the wife and 
friends who are for the husband. They act as a wedge to divide the 
two. The more sympathy expressed to members of the pair separately, 
the more committed the couple becomes to separation. Take the fol- 
lowing case: 

I was first conscious of the fact that I did not want to go back to my 
wife, or that a part of me did not want to go back about two months after 
our break. I analyzed this, and thought that traced to the fact that I had 
introduced myself into this new community on a single-man basis, and peo- 
ple had sort of come to think of me as a separate individual, rather than as 
a married man. Then later I had talked to several people and I had won- 
dered what they would think if I went back to this woman who had caused 
me so much trouble. They sympathized, of course, and that made it all the 
harder. Then later, people insinuated to me that I was such a fine fellow 
that it must have been my wife's fault. In telling the story of our break I 
had always been careful not to say anything against my wife, for two rea- 
sons: one that she is really a very nice person and the other that she might 
come to this new place and I didn't want people prejudiced against her when 
she did. But the very fact that I tried to be fair with her and take the blame 
myself made my friends all the more certain that whatever had happened 
had been her fault rather than mine. 12 

11 Ibid., p. 520. 

12 Willard Waller, The Old Love and the New: Divorce and Readjustment 
(New York: Liveright, 1930), pp. 131-132. 


This case exemplifies well the role of the public in bringing about 
commitment to a permanent separation. The man's failure to identify 
himself as a married man further complicated the situation and acceler- 
ated the movement toward a complete break. 

Breaking Up Housekeeping. The crisis of separation is one of the 
most severe because of the associations tied up with the home. Every 
piece of furniture symbolizes something, every piece brings back mem- 
ories of common experiences. These belongings which must now be 
parcelled out and divided are reminders of days when. . . . The phase 
of separation which is probably most poignant is that of leaving the 
home to take up separate quarters. This act seems to signify more than 
anything else the lengths to which alienation has gone. 

The severance of such a meaningful relationship is usually extremely 
painful. Although quarrels and conflict are useful in bringing out a 
decision that will stick, the couple should be able to say they tried hard 
to make their marriage go and to live up to the expectations of friends 
and well-wishers. Reconciliations which fail show the uselessness of con- 
tinued compromises and force the conclusion that the marriage won't 
work and can't be made to work. The separation which comes with 
taking up separate quarters is a signal to friends and the public that the 
rift is serious. Usually both parties become committed permanently 
to the break, and they finally agree to divorce. The interval between 
separation and divorce is sometimes short, sometimes long, depending 
on the readiness and preparation of the parties. 

Divorce. Divorce is a final severance, for which some preparation has 
to be made. It may take months before the actual work of reconstruct- 
ing one's life can begin. The decree doesn't close the case, however; 
one doesn't divorce and live happily ever after. Indeed, the divorce 
court experience is described by some participants as being the most 
trying shock of the entire alienation process. Both members of the 
couple suffer through the procedure, with a feeling of numbness, of un- 
reality, as if they were not really themselves but someone else looking 
on at the crazy scene. 

After the divorce there is a period of mental conflict in which the in- 
dividual attempts to reconstruct his world, often a period of depression, 
melancholia, and even suicidal attempts. Tensions build up which can 


be handled only with careful and skilled guidance. The divorced per- 
son should be watched for any evidence of depression and encouraged 
to seek counseling if symptoms appear. 

Posfcf/vorce Adjustments. Already during the alienation period pre- 
ceding the divorce, personality adjustments are taking place. The many 
habits which hold marriages together, sex habits, response habits, food 
habits, work habits, all of these have to be broken and reoriented for the 
parties to face single life healthily. Everyone who has tried breaking 
a habit knows how painful the process is and how easy it is to fall back 
into the old routine again. Those who have gone on diets to keep a 
certain weight remember how insistently appetites cry out for foods to 
which they have become accustomed. The divorcing person faces the 
frustration of not one but several fundamental habits, and the separa- 
tion is doubly painful if he must make that adjustment quickly. The 
habits of married living are much more fundamental than dancing or 
smoking or eating, and as they are broken, living loses its savor. 

As the person is forced to turn within himself for satisfaction, the 
results are often curious. He becomes capable, or so he thinks, of doing 
grandiose things. A man revives dreams of boyhood and believes that 
in a short period he will become a great banker or writer. A woman 
after thirty years of being hemmed in by housewifely duties sees possi- 
bilities of attaining startling personal success. Now that the routines of 
married life no longer exist as hampering bonds, the person sees no 
bounds to his possible accomplishments. 

Sour-grapes rationalizations 13 work overtime to convince the person 
he has done the right thing. Pleasant memories are repressed, and the 
illusions which supported the marriage are gradually replaced by cold, 
cruel reality. There is a certain grim conviction that the marriage could 
never have worked and that it was foolish to prolong it as long as it was 

Some helpful suggestions in reconstructing and readjusting the every- 
day life of the divorced warrants at least brief attention: 

i Talking the whole business out with someone who listens without praise 
or blame, who understands and helps but doesn't become involved; in 
sum, spending hours of counseling until the memories no longer bring 
numbing pain and can be faced with some objectivity. 

13 For a discussion of this mechanism, see pp. 17-18. 


2 Developing new skills which have no associations with the marriage and 
which can show progress quickly, such as singing, painting, working at 
certain types of crafts; doing "something you have always wanted to do," 
in order to balance the accounts with something positive and satisfying. 

3 Plunging into professional work with renewed vigor, but not to the exclu- 
sion of all social contacts. 

4 Picking up social contacts; the person is his own best judge of the number 
and depth of new contacts he is emotionally able to take. 

5 Reorienting oneself in terms of the rest of the universe, and working out 
a philosophy of life which gives purpose and zest to living. 

Now, what have we said about the adjustments preceding and fol- 
lowing divorce? The process is necessarily one of conflict, painful and 

CHECK YOURSELF Which of the following conclusions are justified in the light of our 

discussion of the alienation process which precedes divorce? Check 
those which are correct. 

1 As soon as a couple see that they are incompatible, they should start di- 
vorce proceedings and get it over with. 

2 If the couple is interested in preserving their marriage, they should rarely 

talk about their marital troubles to friends, who might gossip. 

3 Conflicts are followed by periods of comparative peace, even among cou- 
ples who eventually separate. 

4 Alienation proceeds through a series of destructive quarrels in which the 

ego, rather than issues, is attacked. 

5 Few divorced persons ever desire to return to their mates once the decree 

is granted. 

6 It's all a matter of will power; couples who divorce don't really try to get 


7 Sexual relations are one of the last habits to be renounced by the alien- 
ated couple. 

8 The blow falls hardest on the one who is asked for the divorce. It is he 

who takes the role of opposing the divorce. 

9 The divorce court proceeding is enjoyed for its drama as well as for the 

new freedom it gives. 

10 The recently divorced person should be watched for any evidence of de- 
pression and encouraged to seek counseling. 

11 Suicides, mental breakdowns, and homicides involving recently divorced 

persons might be avoided by less hurried divorce and more adequate post- 
divorce counseling. 

* KEY n '01 '8 > ' 'Z 


divisive in its results. The timing of needs for sympathy and under- 
standing is wrong; each is too absorbed in his own emotional difficulties 
to sympathize with the other, and a third party is turned to for sym- 
pathy. The process is long-drawn-out and somewhat painful, because 
the adjustment to the loss of a mate takes place in piecemeal fashion. 
To move faster in breaking habits of long standing brings danger of 
damage to personality and possible suicide. It is therefore dangerous to 
advise couples to divorce quickly. 

The readjustment after the divorce consists in reconstructing life 
anew, developing new habits and new purposes which jibe with life as a 
single person. Assuming that the predivorce conflicts completely alien- 
ated the couple, the postdivorce period needs to be one of talking out 
problems which continue to arouse uncomfortable emotions and of pick- 
ing up meaningful activities which will carry the parties back into 
normal social life. 

Do Second Marriages Work? 

The remarriage of divorced persons is a phenomenon of marked signifi- 
cance in our society. We have already indicated in Chapter Eight, 
"Who Gets Married?," that divorced persons remarry at a high rate, 
only about one fourth in recent years remaining in the divorced status 
for as long as five years. We have much less information, unfortu- 
nately, concerning the success or failure of second marriages. It is ar- 
gued by those studies which find second marriages more successful than 
the first that divorced persons have learned a great deal from their ex- 
periences and that this can be seen in their second marriages. Goode's 
discussion of the point for his Detroit cases is quotable: 

. . . There is no question now that second marriages are happier than first 
marriages. I believe that this is not only true when one compares the sec- 
ond marriage with the first unhappy marriage but that the percentage of 
failures is less among all second marriages than among all first marriages. . . . 
My sample is not large enough to include the number of "repeaters" which 
would be necessary for good analysis. There are several bizarre cases of this 
kind in my group, but most people seem to be couples who simply couldn't 
adjust to each other at their particular level of growth and experience. Un- 
less you agree that a substantial proportion of the population is emotionally 
defective, you can't accept the neurosis and personality explanations of di- 
vorce. I suspect that most of these people could, after the divorce, adjust 


happily to their changed spouse if they could really meet him for the first 
time, with the unhappy memories expunged. 14 

Less definite in his convictions about the success of second marriages 
is Harvey J. Locke who matched a married-only-once group of men and 
women with his sample of remarried couples in which one of the 
spouses was married for the second time after a divorce. He found di- 
vorced women good risks in subsequent marriage, but divorced men poor 
risks as compared with persons married only once. 15 

When viewed statistically in terms of "proneness to divorce" the 
research supports the view that the probability of divorce is greater in 
a second or subsequent marriage than it is in the first; indeed, one ana- 
lyst of census data computes the probability as 50 per cent higher for 
second than for first marriages. 16 No single study has answered the 
question, "Do Second Marriages Work?" to our satisfaction. As di- 
vorce is more generally accepted, it is possible that the divorced group 
will include more and more well-adjusted individuals who failed largely 
because of poor matching or other extraneous circumstances related to 
their early dating experiences. These individuals might in second mar- 
riages have high probabilities of marital success. 

Divorce Reform 

Divorce is not something to fear, but to understand and to make less 
painful if we can. Prejudice in the past has made the adjustment to di- 
vorce doubly hard and painful, because the divorced person has been 
set in a class apart when he needs most of all to be accepted and assimi- 
lated back into social life. 

The divorce decree is a perfunctory ceremony which merely signifies 
the lack of unity in a marriage, just as the wedding ceremony solem- 

14 Personal communication to one of the authors from William J. Goode, Co- 
lumbia University, clarifying generalizations from his Detroit study of 425 divorced 
women reported for the Saturday Evening Post by David G. Wittels, 'The Post Re- 
ports on Divorce," Saturday Evening Post, January 21, 28, and February 4, 11, and 
18, 1950. 

15 Harvey J. Locke, Predicting Adjustment in Marriage: A Comparison of a Di- 
vorced and a Happily Married Group (New York: Holt, 1951), pp. 305-309, re- 
porting on a study conducted with W. J. Klausmer. 

18 Paul Landis, "Sequential Marriage," Journal of Home Economics (October, 
1950), Vol. 42. 


nizes the pair unity which existed before marriage. Judge Paul Alex- 
ander has termed the divorce court judge a "public mortician" who 
buries dead marriages. 

There is little justification for the emotional reaction to divorce as 
divorce. It is only a confirmation of the fact that the couple have sepa- 
rated and are no longer performing the required functions of matri- 
mony, and it merely serves to regularize the matter for the protection of 
all concerned. 

The big problem is not to keep people who want divorce badly from 
getting relief but to keep more people from wanting divorce. This will 
involve a complete reversal of policy with respect to the granting of 
legal separations. Our divorce system has developed out of the im- 
portance played by property rights in the marriage contract. In order 
to protect the respective rights of each party, the law provides a means 
by which one member might complain of the offenses of the other and, 
by fixing guilt, obtain a legal release from the contract. Marriage has 
long since changed in emphasis from property contracts to companion- 
ship and affection-giving. Today the question is often not so much 
one of determining guilt as it is of determining the stage of alienation 
and estrangement. 

Since the National Conference on Family Life in 1948, a committee 
of the American Bar Association headed by Judge Paul W. Alexander 
has been actively formulating a new approach to marriage and divorce 
laws. Their proposals, shown in the charts on the next four pages, de- 
part from a new premise, that divorce is an effect rather than a cause of 
broken homes. They propose a new kind of court based on a new phi- 
losophy sweeping away the "archaic legal philosophy" of punishment 
for guilt and substituting for it a positive constructive approach which 
would ask "what is best for the family" and hence best for society. 
The case would no longer be titled "Jane Doe v. John Doe," but "In 
the Interest of the John Doe Family." Trained personnel of the court 
would be used to diagnose, and if possible heal the breach. Divorces 
would not be easier, but more difficult to obtain. The final decree 
would be issued, Judge Alexander has written, "only if the investigation 
plus proper judicial inquiry compelled the conclusion that the marriage 
could no longer be useful to the spouses, the children, or the state; that 
the partners could not or would not permit it to fulfill the functions 



Based on Guilt & Punishment 

health training or residence 

DIVORCE action 
can be started 
as SOON after 

man iage os desired 


can be applied for 
after setting up 
temporary residence 

Hears cases in many fields t 
criminal, equity, divorce,, 
civil suits 

Each judge hard 
pressed to keep up 
with legal aspects 
of the fields he 
presides over 

bent on proving guilt in open court 

To win case 

Antagonist trying to prove 
guilt of mate 




Based on Diagnosis & Treatment 


pre-marital education, 
ohysical exams, no 
runaway marriages 

DIVORCE action 

can't be started until AFTER 

3 YEARS of marriage 


con be applied for only 

Hears only cases in family field: 
divorce, annulment, juvenile 
delinquency, adoption 




Each judge 
gets rounded 
training, has 
staff of 
to help 

To salvage family 

Patients being treated 
for an illness 

looking for cause and cure of trouble 
in private sessions 

Redrawn from chart by GRAPHICS INSTITUTE, N. v. c., for Pageant Magazine 




1. Application for 
divorce u made 

2. Public trial 
damaging to both parties, 
and their children 

3. Trumped up 
evidence frequently 

4. Divorce possible only 

if one is "proved" guilty 

of grounds for divorce 

5. ... Both parties 
ore proved guilty of charge 


(5, 6, and 7) 

6. ... It comes out 
that both parties 
have cooperated 

to arrange grounds 
for divorce 

7. ... An attempt 

evert though non-lasting 

at reconciliation has been made 

8. Alimony settlement 
based on bargaining power 



1. Application 
for help is made 

4. Welfare counseling 
to try to solve social- 
economic problems 

2. Private diagnostic investigation 
made by Court's specialists 

3. Psychological aid to 

try to solve personality- 

emotional problems 

5. Treatment efforts may 

last from 2 months to 2 years 

6. Report on results mode to judge. Will show 
treatment has succeeded, in some cases 

7. Divorce granted only if treatments fafl, 
and judge is convinced case is hopeless 

8. Alimony settlement based on 
real needs and resources 

Redrawn from .chart by GRAPHICS INSTITUTE. M. Y.C.. for Pageant Afafran 


imposed by the natural law and the civil law; that perpetuation of the 
bare legal bond would be more harmful than beneficial to all con- 
cerned." 1T 

The proposals of the American Bar Association's committee are 
being debated in conferences not only of the legal profession but of 
many interprofessional groups. An Interprofessional Commission on 
Marriage and Divorce Laws sponsored by the American Bar Association 
but representative of all the major professions dealing with marriage 
and divorce is conducting research and evaluating the many varied pro- 
posals for divorce reform likely to come before legislative committees. 
A model marriage and divorce act is in the making which will be pre- 
sented to one of the fifty-two jurisdictions in the United States for de- 
bate and action. 

Possibilities Through Voluntary Agencies 

In concluding this chapter on divorce, some account should be taken 
of the possibilities of rebuilding unhappy marriages into more satisfac- 
tory patterns through marital guidance. The increasing availability of 
family counseling through marriage and family counseling agencies 
suggests that counseling should be sought as an alternative to divorce in 
any case. 

Persons of their own will can't successfully arrest the process of 
alienation, but a third party can, if well trained and if he gets the mar- 
riage early enough. The work of the family consultant is to rebuild 
the discordant family, if the matter has gone so far as to need remedial 
rather than preventive treatment. The marital guidance clinic serves 
in many ways as a guard against divorce. As a premarital guidance 
center it assures couples that they are prepared emotionally and physi- 
cally for marriage. Premarital guidance utilizes careful premarital 
examination (discussed in Chapter Five, 'The Meaning of an Engage- 
ment") and instruction given in conferences and class work in prepara- 
tion for marriage. Later the center enters the picture to aid the couple 
in understanding the normality and inevitability of conflict, and en- 
courages the development of techniques for resolving their difficulties 
(see our discussion in Chapter Twelve, "Common Conflicts in Mar- 
riage" ) . Finally, the couple that has failed to use these resources until 

1T New York Times, September 17, 1950, 


they are well along in the alienation process may turn to the counseling 
services for help in rebuilding the marriage in a more satisfactory pat- 
tern. Thus the work of counseling agencies is in line with our earlier 
statement of principle with respect to divorce: 'The big problem is not 
to keep people who want divorce from getting it but to keep more peo- 
ple from wanting divorce." 

Selected Readings 

ALEXANDER, JUDGE PAUL, "Our Legal Horror Divorce/' Ladies' Home Jour- 
nal (October, 1949). 
ANONYMOUS, "Can Divorce Be Successful?" Harper's Magazine (February, 


ANONYMOUS, "What I Want My Kids to Know," Saturday Evening Post 
(June 24, 1950). 

ANONYMOUS DIVORCEE, "Nobody Tells You," Woman's Home Companion 
(January, 1951). 

GOODE, WILLIAM j., "Education for Divorce," Marriage and Family Living 
(May, 1947), Vol. 9. 

, "Problems in Postdivorce Adjustment," American Sociological Review 

(June, 1949), Vol. 14. 

GROVES, ERNEST R., Conserving Marriage and the Family: A Realistic Discus- 
sion of the Divorce Problem (New York: Macmillan, 1945). 

LANDIS, PAUL, "Sequential Marriage," Journal of Home Economics (Octo- 
ber, 1950). 

MEAD, MARGARET, Male and Female (New York: Morrow, 1949), Chap. 17. 

ROSENTHAL, HERBERT c., "Painless Divorce," Pageant (April, 1952). 

WITTELS, DAVID G., "The Post Reports on Divorce," Saturday Evening Post 
(January 21, 28, and February 4, 11, and 18, 1950). 

Technical References 

BARNETT, JAMES H., Divorce and the American Divorce Novel, 1858-1937 
(Philadelphia: Privately Printed, 1939). 

BERGLER, EDMUND, Unhappy Marriage and Divorce (New York: Interna- 
tional Universities Press, 1946). 

"Children of the Divorced," Law and Contemporary Problems (Summer, 
1944), Vol. 10. A symposium. 

DAVIS, KINGSLEY, "Statistical Perspective on Marriage and Divorce," Annals 
(November, 1950). 

CLICK, PAUL c., "First Marriages and Remarriages," American Sociological 
Review (December, 1949), Vol. 14. 

GOODE, WILLIAM j., "Social Engineering and the Divorce Problem," Annals 
(November, 1950). 


, "Economic Factors and Marital Stability/' American Sociological Re- 
view (December, 1951), Vol. 16, No. 6. 

JACOBSON, PAUL H., "Differentials in Divorce by Duration of Marriage and 
Size of Family," American Sociological Review (April, 1950), Vol. 15, 
pp. 235-245. 

LLEWELLYN, K. N., "Behind the Law of Divorce," Columbia Law Review 
(December, 1932 and February, 1933), Vols. 32 and 33. 

LOCKE, HARVEY j., Predicting Adjustment in Marriage: A Comparison of a 
Divorced and a Happy Married Group (New York: Holt, 1951). 

"Toward Family Stability," The Annals (November, 1950), Vol. 272. A 

WALLER, WILLARD, The Old Love and the New (New York: Liveright, 

WALLER, WILLARD, AND HILL, REUBEN, The Family: A Dynamic Interpreta- 
tion (New York: Dryden Press, 1951), chaps. 23-24. 


Courtesy of Syd Hoff 

"He's a dope, but he's mine!" 


ill love alone hold a marriage together? 
What does sex symbolize in marriage? 
What experiences test a marriage? 
When is a marriage a partnership? 
Why is it that happily married people come to think alike and talk alike? 


ned. The accent in the chapters immediately preceding has been on 
the crises of marriage and family life, on the divisive forces which oper- 
ate to break up and test marriage. This chapter emphasizes the forces 
and bonds which hold marriage together. It is dedicated to the propo- 
sition that successful marriages don't just happen, that marriage is what 
you make it. A happy union takes working at, and its accomplishment 
is the product of much sweat and toil in the art of getting along. 

The Expectation of Success * 

"We expect our marriage to work" is one of the strongest bonds tying 
a marriage together at the outset. This conviction supplies the motiva- 
tion to stick together when the going is rough rather than to run home 
to mother. It impels the couple to work out the solutions to problems 
so they won't recur. Honeymooners with the expectation of success are 
already consciously addressing themselves to the task of building their 

1 We are indebted to Willard Waller for many of the ideas which appear in 
this chapter; see The Family: A Dynamic Interpretation (New York: Dryden Press, 


marriage so that it will work. They are saying, " We want to be good 
for one another and we want to be good parents. Show us how." 

In spite of the high divorce rate in America, the standard held up 
for every couple is successful marriage. If a person can't make a suc- 
cess of marriage he is made to feel inadequate, and his failure is pointed 
out by members of society to young people about to be married. Along 
with the personal expectation of success goes the public's expectation of 
success. The individual couple may feel strongly the necessity of not 
letting down the friends who have wished them well. Making marriage 
work is often easier than facing the public with the admission of fail- 
ure. One of the real forces in tying marriages together, then, is the 
expectation of success, the ideal of a happy marriage as the only possible 
outcome of the marriage, and the feeling that the public can't be let 
down by a break-up. 

Friends are admonished in the "whom God hath joined together" 
formula to keep hands off the marriage and stay out of the sphere of 
marital interaction. 2 It is not good form to ask how the marriage is go- 
ing or to inquire as to its health. The assumption in our society is that 
all marriages are happy until proved otherwise by appearance in a di- 
vorce court. It is doubtful if the net effect of this assumption of marital 
bliss is good, since it makes for hypocrisy and implies that conflict is 
abnormal and unusual, but the assumption is an additional force in 
holding many marriages together. 

Social Life Organized for Married Pairs 

A second reason for sticking together is the system of pairing young 
people off for social purposes. Most of our social life is organized 
around married couples or couples about to be married. The develop- 
ment of pair unity in the engagement period was furthered by the pub- 
lic's recognition that the couple did belong together shown by inviting 
them to social occasions as a pair. This acknowledgment caused the 
boy and girl to regard themselves differently and thus gave stability to 
the relationship. The years of married life add to this sense of "we" 
and further unify the couple. Together they explore the social circles 
(and are explored by them); together they make friends and choose the 
sets which they wish to join. Early in the marriage, if not in the en- 

2 Ibid., p. 324. 


gagement, a person learns to accept invitations tentatively until he can 
find out whether or not the other member of the pair is able to go. The 
public understands because it expects the couple to act as a unit. 

Just because society in America is not organized for sexes separately 
as are some societies, the marital relationships are strengthened. Most 
of the entertaining in a community centers within the married set and 
is motivated by the "you invite us and we'll have to return the invita- 
tion later on" phenomenon, leaving almost no social activities for bach- 
elors and spinsters and other nonmarried people. Moreover, to invite 
one member of a married pair and not the other is something of a 
breach of etiquette. The cards are stacked in favor of married couples 
sticking together if they want any social life. Two by two they go 
marching by. 

The positive social pressures just described do hold couples together. 
In addition, the fear of public disapproval, of neighborhood gossip, and 
the fear of scandal are negative forces of which many couples are con- 
scious. These socially imposed forces, however, are essentially adhesive, 
inasmuch as they are applied externally. They are most effective in a 
simple agrarian society where everybody knows everybody else, and are 
less effective within the social sets of the metropolitan centers. Of 
more importance today are the forces within the couples as individuals, 
forces which might be termed cohesive since they are based on the in- 
ner needs of the participants themselves. It is because marriage is 
welded together both by adhesive and cohesive forces, by external so- 
cietal pressures and by internal desires and needs, that it is surviving 
the buffeting of social change in our day. 

Marriage Satisfies Basic Adult Needs 

One of the cohesive forces holding American marriages together is the 
power of the marital relationship to meet the basic affectional needs of 
its members. 3 The American family is built around the husband-wife 
relationship, and the power of that relation to satisfy the needs of the 
couple flavors the whole of family life. Children become accustomed 
to having their needs for affection, companionship, recognition, and re- 
sponse met in the parental family. Moreover, they are conditioned to 

3 The important role of satisfying the basic needs in marriage was anticipated 
in the discussion of the need for love in Chapter One, pp. 13-15. 


expect that the phenomenon of love and affection will carry over into 
a family of their own making. With that expectation, the early court- 
ship activities are surrounded by questions such as, "Does he love me?" 
"Is she good for me?" "Does he do anything for me?" or in sum, "Will 
he satisfy my hunger for affection and security permanently?" The 
history of the courtship is one of finding in the growing relation recipro- 
cal satisfactions and increasing interdependence of one on the other to 
satisfy these imperious needs. 

The adult is, after all, basically the child older grown. In marriage 
the child, now grown older, has transferred from the parent to the mar- 
riage partner his need to give and receive affection and security. The 
transfer takes place piecemeal, beginning with the first recognition of 
the capacity to love someone other than the parent, and continuing 
until the marriage is stabilized as the main source of affection and ap- 
preciation. 4 

To be wanted, to be understood, to be appreciated, to be loved, and 
to belong to someone are fundamental needs which parallel the needs 
to possess, to love, and to respond to someone. Uniquely met in the 
intimacies of the marriage relation, these needs should be listed among 
the main sources of cohesion holding marriages together in America 

The Growth of Sympathy 

As the marriage wears on and the couple come to take for granted the 
unreserved intimacies of wedded life, there is a growth of sympathy be- 
tween the mates. The newlywed is all too often downcast when his wife 
is slightly displeased with him, but the experienced husband knows 
that she will get over it after a while. He has been all through this be- 
fore and can predict the method of bringing the affair to a satisfactory 
conclusion. Here we see a value in some of the features of marriage 
which the Hollywood script writers have condemned in their "never 
let your marriage go to seed" attitude. It is disillusioning to a man 
to see his wife having breakfast in a housecoat with her hair in pins, and 
unpleasant for a wife to see her husband's unshaved face, but it is com- 
forting to both to realize that such liberties do not seriously threaten 
the relationship. These are the jolly little coarsenesses which give to 

4 See Chapter Two, pp. 28-44. 


the marriage relation its unique strength. 6 Shady little sallies between 
them, the vulgarities which they alone think funny and which before 
marriage might have shocked them both, these indiscretions also hold 
a marriage together. 

Gradually each member of a pair comes to share the mental states 
of the other, to live vicariously in the other, and to learn to predict the 
other. In this state of complete intimacy the members of the pair de- 
velop similar tastes and similar aspirations. The wife hears her hus- 
band's jokes hundreds of times but enjoys them because they are her 
jokes, and prods him to "tell that one about when we were in Chicago, 

In the growth of sympathy, the sharing of ideas often results in the 
sharing of depressions and predicting when they will come. Husband 
and wife learn to handle one another's blues as well as one another's 
temper tantrums. Each knows if he's put in the doghouse, the other 
will soon let him out. 

Marriage solidarity develops immensely as members of the pair per- 
ceive the strength of the relationship. It is seen as they recognize, 
while fighting, that they care more about the marriage than they do 
about winning. It comes forcibly to their attention when a crisis like 
infidelity is met without the wife's running home to her parents as she 
would have done earlier in the marriage. It is seen in the willingness 
of the husband to tolerate shoddy household management or sterility of 
the wife with nary a hint at separation. The relationship has come to 
have a value in itself. All such incidents may not seem very romantic; 
indeed, some romantic-minded people would say such marriages had 
gone to seed. But family unity is built on just such foundations as 
these: "We have come to take each other for granted; we know we can 
count on one another"; " She'll see me through thick and thin. What 
a lucky man I am!" 

Family Habits Create Solidarity 

The married pair bring to marriage two separate systems of habits 
formed during life in their respective parental families as well as during 
the years away from the family. Consciously, at first, they must go 
about the task of adjusting the differences in the two systems. The 

B Waller and Hill, op. cit., p. 333. 


wife must find out how strong her husband wants his coffee and when 
he must arise in the morning in order to get to work on time. The 
husband must learn that to his wife permanent waves are more im- 
portant than golf equipment and that ashes on the rug are not to be 
tolerated. After a time the two systems are modified and become an 
interlocking habit system which is a great deal more stable than that of 
the single person could ever be; they rest upon the habit of adjusting to 
the situation created by the real or imaginary demands and expectations 
of others. 

CHECK YOURSELF Underline the correct alternatives in the following statements. 

1 We have a (high, low) divorce rate in America accompanied by a (high, low) 
standard of success for marriage. (Because of, in spite of) the divorce rate, en 
gaged couples feel they start with (high, only average) chances for happy marriage. 

2 Life in American social circles is (as comfortable, not as comfortable) for bache- 
lors and spinsters as it is for married people. 

3 According to marriage authorities, it is not only (devastating, not devastating) 
to the marriage to come to dinner unkempt and unshaven occasionally but it 
(strengthens, weakens) the marriage permanently because it proves (how much, 
how little) the marriage means to the married pair. 

KEY qontll MOq fSU3q}U3I}S ?Ul}E}SEA3p }OU 

-JJOJUIOD SB }ou z -tt^tq fjo 3}ids ui iqSiq - 

Consider the following illustration of habits at work in a typical 
urban home: 

. . . the husband used to laugh when the wife referred to ant-hills as ants' 
houses, but now he does not laugh any more; in fact he sometimes uses the 
expression himself. Each individual member of a family has made certain 
habit adjustments to the physical setting in which the family lives; each 
knows at just what height to insert the key in the lock of the front door and 
each has acquired the knack of giving a little twist to the key which makes 
the door open easily; each one is able to enter any of the rooms in the dark- 
ness and to find the switches for the lights without any difficulty; each knows 
where to sit on hot afternoons in August, and how to descend the rickety 
cellar stairs. And each one, likewise, has made a multitude of adjustments 
to the presence of others in the house. In the morning the father of the 
family gets up and starts the furnace. He walks carefully in order not to dis- 
turb the others, but there is no need of this, for the others have adjusted to 
his early morning noise and do not hear him. A little later the mother gets 


up and calls the children, perhaps a number of times, for they may have 
made an adjustment to her habitual technique and have shifted the respon- 
sibility entirely upon her; they have, perhaps, developed mother deafness. 
She then gets breakfast, sets the table, and calls the family. Father has been 
reading the paper, which is now split into sections. Each one eats his break- 
fast in his customary way; there is the usual interchange of pleasantries and 
the usual grumbling and complaining. Then ensues the morning crisis of 
getting the children off to school and helping father to catch the eight-thirty 
train, the struggle over the bathroom, the effort to find things, the examina- 
tion of shirts to see whether they will do for another day, and all the myriad 
adjustments which arise from a civilization which demands neatness and 
promptness. Then all the members of the family but one leave the home, 
pausing a moment to say good-bye to mother and to pet the dog. 6 

This is just a small part of the family day and misses many of the 
habits of family living reflected in conversation and gestures. It does 
serve to illustrate, however, the intermeshing of social habits of family 
members. Once you become a part of a cooperative enterprise in which 
your behavior is habitually determined by the responses and helps of 
others, it is highly inconvenient to separate yourself. We will discuss 
this point more in detail when we come to the inertia to change which 
exists in all families. 

As the pair become accustomed to each other and dependent upon 
one another for the sharing of family habits, they cease to operate in 
the family as individuals and come to take on a family personality. 
This is the reason married people in time come to talk alike, think alike, 
plan alike, and in some instances even to look alike. Back of the com- 
mon gestures and facial expressions are common attitudes and beliefs. 
These habits serve as an additional source of solidarity in marriage. 

Couples find that one of the techniques for making marriage work is 
to enter wholeheartedly into the business of building common habits. 
They may lose some of their premarriage individuality and independ- 
ence, but they gain a more satisfying personality in the process. 

Habits and Resistance to Change 

In any marriage, after the initial adjustments to personal idiosyncrasies 
have been made and routines established, a level is reached at which the 
married pair feels comfortable. Decisions have been reached concern- 

6 Ibid., pp. 328-329. 


ing the division of duties, and the time schedule for each day has been 
committed to memory. The routines are fast becoming habits through 
repetition and the achievement of satisfying results. The major needs 
are being met, the major drives satisfied. The fact that habits are estab- 
lished makes experimentation less and less necessary. The couple are 
finding the grooves, and married life is gradually reaching an optimum 
level of interaction. 

These routines act for the marriage as a gyroscope acts for a ship, 
pulling it back on an even keel when it is about to go over. It some- 
times seems inevitable that a particular marriage should break up in 
divorce or desertion. Conflicts arise which seem impossible to resolve, 
but somehow equilibrium is restored, and things go on very much as be- 
fore. Sometimes, too, a series of fortunate events makes it look as if a 
marriage were going to reach a level of impossible happiness but that 
also passes. 

An illustration may help to explain the tendency to stabilize mar- 
riage at a given level. When there is a "blow-up" each person is con- 
scious of the cultural standards (that is, what is right in the situation) 
and of the fact that friends and families would disapprove if the truth 
were known. To add to their sense of guilt the couple may hear a 
sermon, or read a story, or hear a bit of gossip about a recently divorced 
couple which reminds them of the cultural norm. Discussion and 
reconciliation follow and the marriage is restored to its normal level. 
Thereafter the couple is tempted to let sleeping dogs lie. Ways are 
found for settling conflicts with a minimum of disturbance. 7 

Another explanation of marriage stabilization lies in an understand- 
able reluctance to change a mutually satisfying relation in favor of 
something new or unknown. The collective habits of a married pair 
are solidly based on the needs and motives of both parties or at least 
they were originally built up to satisfy the couple's needs. As long as 
these needs are satisfied there is inertia to change. Another kind of re- 
luctance to change arises from the inability of either partner to know 
the mind of the other and the consequent difficulty of getting together 
on any ground other than that they now share. 

In sum, one of the forces holding marriages together is the reluc- 
tance to give up "a good thing." The marriage may not be perfect, but 
to break habits is painful. They become vested interests, active in their 

7 Adapted from Waller, op. cit., p. 331. 


own perpetuation, as anyone knows who has tried to quit smoking or 

Working toward a Common Goal 

Dick is a medical student just beginning his four-year course and 
would like to get married, but he is afraid it is impossible for about six 
years. He has his M.D. to get first, followed by an internship and 
residence work. Marie suggests that there are things a girl would dis- 
like more than working jointly with a man for an M.D. It would be 
their M.D., and they would share the experiences and sacrifices to- 
gether, if they were married. 

In the struggle to reach a common goal, a new feeling arises, a sense 
of having fought and bled together. Pride in common achievement, 
the sense of superiority which common accomplishments bring, or the 
feeling of struggling together against misfortune such experiences are 
basic to marriage solidarity. They form a backlog to hold the marriage 
together in the crises which follow later in family life. The reference 
to "leaner" days, the technique of reminiscing together, reminders of 
the history of the relation, these can be called up when trouble arises 
on the home front. 

In Chapter Twenty, "Marriage Isn't What It Used to Be," it will be 
pointed out that the family has lost many of the old-time economic 
functions which made it a partnership. In the old-style family, making 
a living was a common enterprise which tied the family members to- 
gether. Today it is more typical that the man earn and the woman 
spend the living. In the modern family, mutual interdependence arises 
largely out of husband and wife's sharing the budgeting and planning 
of expenditures, the joint consumption rather than the joint production 
of economic goods. In addition, it must be admitted that the divi- 
sion of familial duties between man and wife makes for interdepend- 
ence, as any husband will find who is forced by circumstances to take 
over the task of managing the home while his wife is gone. One har- 
ried husband found, thanks to his rich parental family training, that he 
had been given some background for all except one of the wifely home- 
making duties. Can you guess what it was? Braiding his daughter's 
hair! Even so, this husband's life was immeasurably brighter when his 
wife returned, and the balance of duties was established once again. 


Another phase of partnership centers around buying furniture and 
setting up a home. The things you buy are often bought after much 
deliberation. You scrimped and saved for each stick of furniture. 
Each item brings to memory a multitude of associations which solidify 
marriage. In the divorce process the most painful step of all is breaking 
up housekeeping and distributing the furniture. The converse of break- 
ing up housekeeping is the solidifying function of building a home by 
self-sacrifice and hard work. The good family person comes to talk 
about his accomplishments and his possessions as "ours": "our degree/' 
"This is our chance/' "When we bought this, Jane was just a baby/' 
"We saved for six months for our coffee table." 

Another evidence of partnership as a binding force in marriage is 
seen in the unselfish goals which a pair will set for themselves. Many 
marriages are initiated and grow as the participants strive to serve hu- 
manity in specific ways. The ideal of alleviating the lot of the sick and 
the lame, of leaving society the better for their marriage, unifies many 
modern couples. An age-old ideal is that of rearing healthy, useful 
children, and this appears to be positively related to marital happiness. 
Couples are drawn together and their marriage is given meaning as a 
partnership by the wider interests and services which they care about. 

The Role of Love 

Not to discuss the role of love in holding a marriage together would 
be an oversight. We have tried to show first that there are other forces 
working to this same end: the forces of public approval, the meeting of 
basic needs of affection and security, habits of living together, interests 
and intimate jokes in common, experiences in working toward a com- 
mon goal, interdependence because of duties performed, and inertia to 
change, all of which have a part in maintaining the integrity of a mar- 
riage. It is difficult to know exactly what role love plays in the whole 

We are sure of one thing, that the romantic dogma has been a major 
source of premature break-ups through its brittle philosophy, "if you 
really loved me you wouldn't do this." Not helpful to marriage soli- 
darity are the following romantic notions: that a marriage will ride 
through on love alone, that it doesn't take working at, and that true 
love always runs smoothly. Every marriage faces bumps and jolts 


to pretend otherwise is fantastic. The all too frequent example of the 
woman who runs out on a marriage before it really gets started just be- 
cause her husband acts like a human being instead of a Prince Charm- 
ing derives support from the romantic love philosophy. Marriages 
based mainly on romantic love are precariously set up, because they 
weaken as the emotion itself changes. 

Conjugal love is quite another emotion. It grows as the marriage 
progresses, thrives on companionship, common experiences, and the 
number of happy episodes which are scattered through a rich marriage. 
Conjugal love builds on the familiar, the mementos, the souvenirs, and 
waxes stronger with each additional year of marriage. Unlike romantic 
love, conjugal love is impossible for newly acquainted young people, 
since it requires time to form and grows from continuous association. 
Romantic love is greatest where each party knows least about the other 
you see, reality gets in the way of romance. This is the love that is 

As conjugal love comes to the fore in marriage the relationship is 
strengthened. Few marriages in America persist over any length of 
time without developing conjugal love sentiments, because they are 
based on companionship and common interests which intertwine the 
experiences of established marriages. In contrast, romantic love gradu- 
ally disappears in the companionable marriage except for the lip service 
paid it in the exaggerated moments of bliss which occasionally occur 
throughout married life. Romantic love as a solidifying factor in mar- 
riage gives way to conjugal love, which is more mature and more com- 
patible with the companionable features of contemporary marriages. 

The Two Shall Be One 

Married love, which we have called conjugal love, finds expression in 
many day-by-day experiences. None of these is more effective as a uni- 
fying force than regular, satisfying sex intercourse. The regular release 
of tension in coitus is extremely satisfying in the purely physical sense, 
and in addition it serves as an expression of fulfillment for the entire 

Fred and Mabel are examples of happily married people. Fred 
comes home from a busy day at the plant full of the doings of his day. 
He tells Mabel about how grouchy the boss is, how green his new assist- 


ant is, how much progress he is making on his new machine, what he 
had for lunch, and what a funny duck he got to talking to on the way 
home on the bus. This conversation takes up most of the dinner hour; 
it leaves Fred relaxed at having spilled his day's experiences and gives 
Mabel the feeling that she has been a part of Fred's day. 

Mabel too has things to relate. She wants to share excerpts of the 
letter she has just received from her folks. She is eager to discuss with 
Fred what they will do with her mother when her father goes (this last 
letter tells of another heart attack, and both Fred and Mabel know that 
some day soon there will be one too many of them). Although they 
don't reach a final decision, Mabel senses that Fred is back of her, what- 
ever happens, and she feels a sudden burst of affection for her good old 
dependable Fred right there while they are finishing dessert. She gets 
confidence to confess that she has been running over her budget for the 
month, which they talk over with some heat. They end up with an 
understanding of the financial situation, and the atmosphere is cleared, 
leaving them both relieved. 

After supper they do the dishes together. Fred drops and breaks 
the jelly dish. Mabel starts to fuss and then admits that she hated the 
thing anyway. They got it last Christmas from Aunt Harriet, whom 
she always has disliked. Fred grins and says he can't stand her either, 
as he kisses the back of Mabel's neck. She leans against him for a mo- 
ment and observes that this is one thing she likes about him : they both 
dislike the same people. 

Aunt Harriet gets a going over by both of them as they move into the 
living room and turn on the radio. Their favorite mystery couple comes 
on for a half hour, leaving them feeling as if they too had been out on 
an adventure. Fred puts on some records that they both enjoy and 
goes over his paper once more, and Mabel sews in front of the fire. 
The clock strikes ten as the symphony hour comes on. They are both 
tired but agree to stay up until the program is over. Mabel puts up her 
sewing and stretches out on the sofa. Fred drops his paper and comes 
over to sit beside her. As a favorite passage of music flows into the 
room, Fred squeezes Mabel's hand and smiles into her eyes. 

By bedtime there has developed a strong sense of belonging to each 
other, a feeling of true unity. Sex intercourse then becomes not just a 
physical release, but a symbol of the whole relationship. Into it flow 
the meanings and the feeling tones of the broken jelly dish and the mu- 


sic and Fred's boss and Mabel's mother and all the security that has 
come from working it all through together. 

Next morning Fred gets up feeling like a million, and leaves for 
work with the conviction that it would take a dozen bosses to get him 
down today. Mabel goes out to shop with a tune on her lips, and in 
her mind a resolution to economize. Both face the new day with more 
poise, more peace, more strength and courage, because the two are one. 

The accompanying diagram shows roughly what the sex relationship 
has meant to Fred and Mabel in symbolizing their sense of unity. 

Fred's day-v /-Fred's day again (Mabel understands) 

Mabel's mother -A TH ^ AT Mabel's mother is Fred's too 

The budget ] SEX f The budget will balance 

Aunt Harriet -'I SYMBOL V It's fun to agree on pet hates 

The music-' *- We must play our records more often 

Making Marriage Fun 

When the peace of the household has been broken and the offending 
party finds himself in the doghouse, he may utilize any number of de- 
vices to restore the status quo, one of the most effective being the use 
of humor. There is something funny about almost every marital crisis 
if the participants don't take themselves too seriously. A mate with a 
funnybone is an asset to any partnership and has saved many a marriage 
from cracking up. 

Conciliatory devices become extremely handy to "save face" in a 
tense situation and are most often learned in the parental family in the 
process of growing up. In our culture we have developed a repertoire 
of techniques which most of us recognize when they are used on us, but 
which enable us to save face and make up if we really want to. These 
devices are no cure for fundamental alienation, but they tide over many 
a marriage in the early stages of conflict to the point where a workable 
balance is attainable. Every couple should be familiar with these tech- 
niques and should learn to use them to advantage. They are: i. humor 
twists, such as punning, kidding, infantilisms; 2. storytelling; 3. com- 
pliments and flattery; 4. tension-dispelling devices, such as walking, 
swearing, crying; 5. appeals to the past history of the relationship; 


6. displacing hostility onto a pet peeve common to both; 7. apologies, 
resolutions to improve, statements of plans for the future, etc. 

Weathering the Storms 

No marriage can be called a strong marriage at the outset. It is untried, 
untested; only after experiences with normal conflict and only after 
meeting such crises as war separations, depressions, unemployment, or 
serious illness can we be assured of the fundamental solidarity of a mar- 
riage. This is to say that a marriage is both tested and strengthened by 
the crises it has overcome. We have heard people jsay, "If we get 
through this crisis we know we can face anything together/' and, "We 
got married during the depression when there weren't any jobs, and 
we lived on $50 a month for two years and it brought us together as 
nothing else could. We depended on ourselves for moral support, and 
our recreation consisted of walks to all the free museums and factories 
in the city and attendance at all the free concerts of the city symphony 
orchestra. We shall never be afraid of facing impoverishment, because 
we know from experience we can take it!" 

Some of the forces we usually think of as making for break-ups also 
make for solidarity. It is a source of security to a married couple to 
have been through enough conflicts to learn how to handle them. The 
pair need no longer be afraid if tensions build up to a high pitch; a 
blow-up might clear the air. A good fight defines the issues, and leaves 
the combatants knowing that they are still loved and can get away with 
airing their differences. Over a period of time grievances accumulate 
and tension arises. There is a quarrel, and the grievances are expressed. 
Both persons experience a purging of their souls, and then settle back 
into the accustomed level of routine interaction. Crises, conflict, and 
illnesses, mastered and assimilated, act as forces to hold marriage to- 

Why People Stay Married 

Much has been written about marital conflict but relatively little about 
marital solidarity. The happily married pair have until recently kept 
their secrets locked up only the alienated and the divorced have 
spilled for research workers. As far as we have gone in our discussion 


of marital solidarity, we are on firm ground, however. We have drawn 
largely from materials on well-adjusted families obtained from shrewd 
observers of family life and from the files of marital guidance clinics, 
which deal with both marital failures and marital successes. 

What are the factors which hold marriages together in America to- 

1 Couples begin marriage with the expectation of success, and this ideal of 
solidarity holds them together. 

2 Much of social life is organized around married pairs there is no satis- 
factory provision for the single person, unmarried, widowed, or divorced. 

3 Couples find uniquely supplied in the marriage relationship the satisfac- 
tion of many basic adult needs: the desire for affection, companionship, 
security, recognition, response, and understanding. 

4 Common interests, family jokes, and common experiences hold marriage 

5 Marriage becomes a habit which is painful to break; the interdependence 
which develops because of duties performed solidifies marriage. 

6 In the struggle for a common goal a new feeling of unity arises, a sense 
of having fought and bled together. 

7 Conjugal love is a tying factor which grows as marriage progresses, thrives 
on companionship, common experiences, and the memory of things fa- 

8 The meeting of sexual needs comes to symbolize for the couple the sense 
of growing unity in the marriage relationship. 

9 The use of tension-dispelling devices tides over many marriages in the 
early stages of conflict to the point where a workable balance is attain- 

10 Crises such as war separations, impoverishment, and serious illnesses test 
and may strengthen the untried marriage. 

Selected Readings 

BOWMAN, HENRY A., Marriage for Moderns (New York: McGraw-Hill, 

1948), Chap. 10. 
LANDIS, JUDSON T., AND LANDis, MARY, Building A Successful Marriage (New 

York: Prentice-Hall, 1948), chaps. 10-14. 
LEVY, JOHN, AND MUNROE, RUTH, The Happy Family (New York: Knopf, 

1938), Chap. 5. 

MAYO, ELTON, "Should Marriage Be Monotonous?" Harper's Magazine 

(September, 1925), Vol. 151, pp. 420-427. 
MERRILL, FRANCIS E., Courtship and Marriage (New York: Sloane, 1949), 

chaps. 13-14. 


WALLER, WILLARD, AND HILL, REUBEN, The Family: A Dynamic Interpreta- 
tion (New York: Dryden Press, 1951), chaps. 14-16. 

Technical References 

BURGESS, ERNEST w., AND LOCKE, HARVEY, The Family: From Institution to 
Companionship (New York: American Book, 1945), Chap. 11, "Family 


(Philadelphia: Blakiston, 1949), Chap. 8, "Psychological Factors in Mari- 
tal Adjustments." 

FOLSOM, JOSEPH K., The Family and Democratic Society (New York: Wiley. 
1943), Chap. 12, "Personality and Marital Happiness." 

MAGOUN, F. A., Love and Marriage (New York: Harper, 1948), Chap. 2, 
"The Nature of Marriage." 

WINCH, ROBERT F., The Modern Family (New York: Holt, 1952), Chap. 15, 
"Companionship Love and Marriage: A Theory of Complementary 









"And he looks just like his dad . . ." 


Will your children be just like you? 

Just what happens during the period before birth? 

Why can't some couples have babies? 

How much does a baby owe to heredity? 



cause it takes a baby to make a family out of a marriage. This chapter 
is devoted to the discussion of what it takes to bring a baby into the 
world, the process of embryonic growth from fertilized ovum to finished 
product. Each baby that is born has a history which starts long before 
its squeal is heard in the delivery room. To tell that story is our pres- 
ent assignment. 

How Much Do You Know about Heredity? 

In reviewing where babies come from we look first at the endowments 
each starts with, his inheritances. What do you know about heredity? 
Try yourself out on the following test by Dr. Amram Scheinfeld. 1 Mark 
each statement true or false. Check your answers with those of Dr. 
Scheinfeld, which follow immediately after the test. Give yourself ten 
points for each right answer. Then add up your score and see how 
you stand; 80 to 100 is excellent, 60 to 80 is good, 40 to 60 is average, 
20 to 40 means that you will learn a lot from this chapter that you 
never knew before. 

1 Reprinted by special permission of the Curtis Publishing Company; see 
Amram Scheinfeld, "How Much Do You Know about Heredity?" Ladies' Home 
Journal, November, 1941, pp. 121-123. 


i A child's sex is determined by the father. 

2 A son born to a man of seventy will be weaker than one he fa- 
thered at thirty. 

3 A pregnant mother can in no way improve the future character of 

her child by keeping her thoughts pure, listening to good music, 
reading inspiring books, and so on. 

4 The mother contributes more to her son's heredity than does the 


5 Redheads are by nature more passionate than blondes. 

6 In a blood transfusion, a mother's blood is safest for her child. 

7 A Negro child may be born to an apparently white couple if one 

of them had a Negro ancestor. 
8 Members of certain human races cannot reproduce if mated with 

members of a widely different race. 

9 Women have just as much native intelligence as men. 

10 There are no human "thoroughbred" families. 

Here are the facts: .-^ 

1 (True.) The human male produces two kinds of sperm which differ in 
a minute degree with respect to sex-determining properties. The egg 
produced by the mother is "neutral." Thus if one type of sperm (con- 
taining an "X" chromosome) fertilizes the egg, the result will be a girl; 
if the other type (containing a "Y" chromosome), a boy results. 

2 (False.) Neither the age nor the condition of the father can change the 
nature of the chromosomes (hereditary factors) which he transmits to a 

3 (True.) Any hereditary factors bearing on the child's character are in it 
the moment it is conceived. Not until after it is born can the mother 
influence the child's character for the better. 

4 (True.) While their contributions to a child's heredity are in all other 
respects equal, the sex chromosome ("X") contributed by mother to 
son contains many additional "genes" not present in the sex chromo- 
some ("Y") from the father. Thus, certain defects such as hemo- 
philia are passed on to sons only by their mothers, because the genes 
for them occur only in the sex chromosome they get from her. 

5 (False.) The hereditary factors producing hair coloring (and eye color- 
ing as well) are not linked with those making for any specific type of per- 
sonality. Any kind of coloring may go with any kind of temperament. 

6 (False.) A mother's blood may often be as different from her child's 
and as dangerous to transfuse as that of some total stranger. Blood types 
are inherited through a combination of factors from both parents, and it 
is just as possible for a child and parent to have different blood types as 
to have different-colored eyes. 

7 (False.) Only if both parents have Negro blood, and in a considerable 
degree, can a Negro baby appear. Stories to the contrary are either 
myths or cases of doubtful paternity. 


8 (False.) All human beings belong to the same species, Homo sapiens, 
and are fertile with one another. 

9 (True.) All intelligence tests now indicate that women have as much 
mental capacity as men, but that any intellectual inferiority on their part 
is due to less opportunity to develop themselves. 

10 (True.) To produce human thoroughbreds, as in domestic animals, 
would have required the closest inbreeding between mothers and sons, 
fathers and daughters, brothers and sisters. As matters stand, all hu- 
mans, even members of royalty, are biologically mongrels. 

No One Else Just Like You! You are somebody very special. There 
never has been anyone like you. There isn't one chance in 300,000,000,- 
000,000 of there ever being another person just like you! Yet you were 
not a haphazard accident that could happen only once in the history 
of mankind. You were rather the result of a complete new deal of 
human characteristics. Every one of your children, and your grand- 
children, and their children will be quite as unique yet they will be 
your progeny and draw from the same general pool of inheritance that 
produced you. With Nature emphasizing uniqueness so strongly, how 
does she do it? What is the process by which you became you in the 
first place? 

The fact that your father chose your mother (or the other way 
around) brought together two streams of heredity that had been 
branching out in similar twosomes since the beginning of time. And 
then out of the hundreds of human ova produced by your mother and 
the hundreds of millions of sperm available from your father, the fusion 
of the particular egg with the particular sperm that started you off was 
something that never could happen twice the same way. 

You began with the union of one of your mother's human eggs 
which, though no bigger than a fraction of a dot on this paper, carried 
the full deal of her side of the family to you, and the microscopic sperm 
which brought you everything that had been dealt out for you from 
your father's side of the house. The microscopic miracle that carried 
all your characteristics and inherent tendencies in this union of two 
germ cells was an elaborate and highly exact arrangement of ultra- 
minute packets of hereditary determiners called genes. For each char- 
acteristic that was inherited there was a pair of genes (one from father, 
one from mother). The color of your eyes, the shape of your nose, 
the set-up of your body, the length of your fingers, the tendency to 
freckle or not, to sing on key or not, and to have twins or not, these and 


all of your other characteristics were to be found in potential form in 
the genes somewhere in the fertilized ovum which, in time, was to be 

These genes are strung like beads on a string, each one exactly 
matching in position the parallel gene of every other germ cell, and 
separated at convenient lengths in tiny bodies called chromosomes. 
Military drill has nothing on chromosome formation. There are al- 
ways the same number when they line up for review, each one in its 

Deep in your reproductive organs is a cluster of cells that exist for 
the sole purpose of transmitting your particular line-up of genes and 
chromosomes to your children. These germ cells (produced in the 
ovaries of the girl and in the testes of the boy) coast along through 
childhood without much activity. At adolescence the ovaries and testes 
begin their business of turning out at regular intervals the germ cells 
that have the capacity of making a parent of you an ovum every 
month in the girl, hundreds of millions of sperm every few days in the 
boy. Whether you marry or not, these germ cells are produced with 
a faithful regularity throughout your active adulthood. In germ cell 
production, instead of each chromosome splitting to form 48 new ones 
for each cell, each pair of chromosomes separates and one goes into 
each new cell, so that the final germ cell has just half of the original 
twenty-four pairs, twenty-four singles. Twenty-four singles from the 
mother plus twenty-four singles from the father equal twenty-four new 
pairs when they unite to form the beginnings of a new baby. Twenty- 
four pairs of chromosomes, each with its own gene determiners, now 
struggle for dominance. Some characteristics cover up others, in the 
same way that darker colors cover lighter ones on a canvas. A gene for 
dark hair, for instance, finding itself paired off with a gene for blond 
locks, has the right of way and wins the race for expression in the new 
individual. This tendency for some genes to win over others in the ex- 
pression of characteristics is called dominance and works according to 
the well-known laws of heredity. The characteristic that is there but 
doesn't show in the new individual is said to be recessive (blond hair 
coloring in the illustration above is recessive ... it doesn't show in 
this person, but paired off with another blond gene in the next genera- 
tion might result in a true goldilocks). A monk by the name of Men- 
del, studying many generations of flowers in his garden during the last 

Thfs is what makes all the differences there are 
between a woman and a man: 

In every cell of every female 

there are two chromosomes like 

this, called "X"s 

Every cell of every male has 

only one "X". Its mate, much 

smaller, is called a "Y" 

xx x y 

For reproduction, a female forms eggs, a male sperms/ 

to each of which they contribute only HALF their quota 

of chromosomes, or just one from every pair 

Since a female has TWO "X"s, each egg gets one But as the male has only ONE "X", paired with 
"X", sd in this respect every egg is the same: "V", he forms TWO kinds of sperms: 

AN "X" 



Thus: If an "X"-bearing sperm enters the egg, 
the result is an individual with TWO "X"s 


. If 6 ""/"-bearing sperm enters the egg, 
the result is an "XY" individual, or 


From Amram Scheinfeld, You and Heredity (Lippincott) 

FIG. 1 How Sex Is Determined 


century, discovered this tendency of some genes to cover the expression 
of others, and worked out the mathematical expectancy in each suc- 
ceeding generation. The principles of Mendelian heredity are found to 
work in the inheritance of some human characteristics, but it is not as 
simple as that, so not even experts can reliably predict the character- 
istics of their children. 2 

Certain other aspects of inheritance may challenge you: What de- 
termines whether the new individual will be male or female? What 
happens when babies come as twins or triplets? How is skin color in- 

Sex Determination. Careful perusal of Figure i shows that the father 
is responsible for determining the sex of his child. There are appar- 
ently two kinds of spermatozoa, and the sex of the child is determined 
by the type which enters the Fallopian tubes first and fertilizes the egg. 
There are hundreds of millions of sperm in each ejaculation of semen 
and it is pretty much a matter of chance which type of sperm reaches 
the egg first. Since a few more boys than girls are conceived, there 
would seem to be a slight advantage in favor of the male-determining 
sperm. The normal ratio of 105 boy babies to 100 girls at birth in the 
U.S. A. varies slightly with race and age of mothers, 3 but no one has 
been able to explain satisfactorily just why. Nor has any method 
emerged that will reliably select which type of sperm will fertilize the 
egg, so that the sex of the child-to-be remains a mystery until the baby 
is born. 

Twinning. Twinning seems to run in families, and there has been a 
great deal of speculation on just how the tendency is inherited. No 
definitely reliable findings are available that will guarantee the produc- 
tion of twins nor give insurance against their arrival in any given 
union! Like almost all of the other products of gene shuffling there is 
a new deal for each new child, and prediction of twins is difficult. 

Figure 2 points to the following generalizations concerning twins: 
i. there are two kinds of twins, identical and fraternal; 2. identical 
twins come from the same fertilized egg; 3. identical twins are always 
of the same sex and share the same heredity; 4. fraternal twins come 

2 Amram Scheinfeld, The New You and Heredity (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 

3 C. A. McMahan, "An Empirical Test of Three Hypotheses concerning the 
Human Sex Ratio at Birth in the United States, 1915-1948," Milbank Memorial 
Fund Quarterly (July, 1951), pp. 273-93. 

Are products of 

A single 

In an early stage 
the embryo divides 

The halves go 
on to become 

Usually but not always identical 
twins share the same placenta and 
fetal sac 

But regardless of how they develop, 
they carry the same genes and are 

Always of the same sex two boys 
or two girls 

Are products of TWO different eggs 
fertilized by TWO different sperms 


They have different genes and may 
develop in different ways, usually 
but not always having separate 
placentas and separate fetal sacs 

Also, as they are totally different in* 
dividuals, they may be 

of the 

two girls 

-Or a 


From Amram Scheinfeld, You and Heredity (Lippincott) 

FIG. 2 How Twins Are Produced 


from two different fertilized eggs, that is, two eggs and two sperm; 
5. fraternal twins have no more in common in their heredity than 
other brothers and sisters, except that they have shared the mother's 
uterus; and 6. fraternal twins may be of the same sex or of different 

Triplets, quadruplets, and quintuplets are formed by extensions of 
these two basic processes. For instance, triplets may be all fraternal 
(three fertilized ova), or all identical (one fertilized ovum with two 
divisions and separations), or partially identical and partially fraternal 
(one pair of identical twins and a fraternal third individual conceived 
and delivered together). The famous Dionne quintuplets are appar- 
ently identical. Often it is difficult without scientific assistance to tell 
which type of twinning has occurred. 

CHECK YOURSELF Fill in the blanks from your reading of twinning and your study of 

Figure 2. 

1 The Joneses have just had twins, a boy and a girl. These twins must be 

2 Two boys, one blond and blue-eyed, the other dark and brown-eyed, were born 
of the same mother at the same time. They are probably twins. 

3 Two girls just exactly alike have been born of the same mother at the same time. 
They are not twins. Therefore they must be 

4 Twin girls marry twin boys. It is that they will have twins. 

5 Identical twins are always of the sex. 

* KEY 3UIBS s siqjssoj y 9iom 10 sp[du; jo 

J3S B jo OMJ, e 

How Skin Color Is Inherited. The facts about skin color are not 
widely known. Especially is there public confusion about the inheri- 
tance of skin color in interracial unions. The materials presented in 
Figure 3 cover only two types of skin color genes, but there are prob- 
ably more. Some of the facts on skin color inheritance implied from 
this chart are worthy of restatement: i. two full-blooded Negroes 
could not have a white child; 2. two pure whites could not have a 
Negro baby; 3. two parents from mixed Negro-white stock might have 
a white child; 4. two parents from mixed Negro-white stock could have 
q. dark-skinned child, even though they were relatively light-skinned 
themselves; 5. in respect to skin color, the mulatto is always of mixed 


The "full" Negro has f f 

TWO sets of 1 

<Jegro skin-color" genes I J 


Each parent contributes to every child 
ONE set. (One "A" gene and one "B") 

Every child Is of a 


The white has 

two sets of 

"white-skin" genes 

"blended" (mulatto) shade 

WHEN TWO MULATTOS (like child above) MATE: 

The genes segregate, and each parent 
may give to a child any of these four 
combinations of "A" and "B" genes: 

Mulatto fa 

Skin Genes ^^ 

Ad four 

From both parents together a child may get 
any of nine combinations, including these: 

Skin Genes 


"Negro" genes: "Negro" genes: 


"Negro" genes: 

"Negro" gene: 



o e 

All four 
'White" genes: 




Black Dark Medium Light 

(NOTE: Only two fypes oj skin color genes are shown, but thert probably are more) 

From Amram Scheinfeld, You and Heredity (Lippincott) 

FIG. 3 Skin Color 


heredity, Negro and white; and 6. a true black-skinned child can oc- 
cur only if both parents carry some Negro skin color genes. 

The First Nine Months of Life 

That period between the moment when the egg is fertilized and the 
time when the baby is born is characterized by the most rapid growth 
and the greatest differentiation of the whole life span, yet few of us have 
the opportunity for studying what happens during these first nine 
months of life. 

The accompanying pictorial presentations show the development of 
the baby from conception through birth. 

Figure 4 shows a cross section of a uterus, a Fallopian tube, and an 
ovary. To check his familiarity with the items shown in the chart, the 
reader might try to locate and label the following: ovary, Graafian fol- 
licle (there are three or four in the ovary section), Fallopian tube, 
uterus, body of uterus, and cervix of uterus. 

The student will recall that the egg released from the ruptured 
Graafian follicle enters the tube, is usually fertilized there, and journeys 
down the tube into the uterus. The journey takes three to five days. 

The elements shown in Figure 5 are greatly magnified in size. The 
ovum is several times larger than in life. This picture shows thirteen 
stages of development of one human egg from its place in the Graafian 
follicle through to the tube, its fertilization, and its subsequent division 
into many cells as it travels down the tube and implants itself in the 
wall of the uterus. 

The illustrations in figures 6 and 7 show the growth of the fetus from 
the sixth week to the fourth month of pregnancy. 

The fertilized egg has already implanted itself in the wall of the 
uterus. The placenta has long since been formed and the baby's circu- 
lation established in such a way that the fetus receives its nourish- 
ment from the mother's blood stream without coming into direct con- 
tact with it. The amniotic (membrane) sac has formed, in which the 
baby floats in fluid (nature's own shock absorber), and the fetus itself 
is now developing at a rapid pace. At six weeks the fetus already has 
a definite shape, although it cannot yet be said to look very human! By 
four weeks a careful student may be able to identify the arm and leg 
buds, the spinal column which ends in a true-to-life tail, and the large 



FIG. 4 Cross Section of Uterus and Related Organs 
Be/ow: Before and After Pregnancy 

Dickinson- B el skie 

FIG. 5 Travel of Egg: Ovulation to Nidation 


FIG. 6 Fetus at Six Weeks 

Dickinson- Belskie 

FIG. 7 Fetus at 2!/ 2 Months and 3'/2 Months 

Dickinson- Belskie 

FIG. 8 Baby Grows Like the Plant 


FIG. 9 Before Labor 


head with the beginnings of the eyes and mouth. By three and one 
half months (about fourteen weeks) the fetus is several inches long and 
is beginning to look like a real baby. Although it weighs only about 
two ounces, it is already complete with fingers and toes and a very 
shapely ear. 

The two pictures in Figure 8 are arranged to show how the fetus is 
fed through the umbilical cord and the placenta in much the same way 
as a plant is nourished through its stem and root system. In the case 
of the fetus, the blood vessels of the mother and those of the baby lie 
close to each other within the placenta, and the exchange of food ( from 
the mother's blood to the baby's) and waste (from the baby to the 
mother) takes place through the membranes of the blood vessels. The 
mother's blood does not enter the baby. Blood from the placenta is 
conveyed by blood vessels in the cord to the baby. 

Figure 9 shows the baby in the uterus just before labor begins. The 
baby is full term and is ready to be born. Now it weighs seven and one 
half pounds, more or less, and is about twenty inches long. The baby 
is in the best position for birth with the head against the cervix. See 
if you can find the following landmarks of the mother's anatomy: the 
bladder (squeezed between the baby's head and the bone in front), 
the colon, the vagina, the pubic symphysis, the end of the mother's 
spinal column. 

Figure 10 shows the cervix dilating (notice how much thinner it is 
than in Figure 9). The mother is now in labor. The first stage of 
labor, in which the cervix dilates enough to let the baby through, usu- 
ally lasts about sixteen hours for a first baby (less for subsequent chil- 
dren) and is characterized by rhythmic pains that increase in intensity 
and frequency until the cervix is completely open. It is early in the first 
stage that the woman usually notifies her physician of labor pains. She 
will be ordered to the hospital when the interval between pains is from 
ten to fifteen minutes. 

Figure 11 shows the cervix completely open. One thin portion of 
the cervix shows just at the baby's right ear lobe, the other high on the 
forehead. The mother is now in the second stage of labor, in which 
the pains come frequently and with great intensity. The pains now 
have a bearing-down quality as the uterine muscles attempt to expel the 
baby. This stage of labor lasts for an hour or two and is usually made 
endurable for the woman by anesthetic or analgesic. 


In Figure 12 we see the baby's head already born and the doctor 
assisting in the birth of the shoulders. The uterine and abdominal 
muscles are contracting vigorously now. Note how the baby's shoulders 
turn to fit the size of the birth passage. Not all babies are born with 
head and shoulders first, although that is the most frequent position. 
The so-called breech presentation, buttocks first, is not an infrequent 

In Figure 13 we see the third stage of labor. The placenta is sepa- 
rating from the uterine wall and will soon be expelled along with the 
membranes and umbilical cord that is still attached to it. The other 
end of the cord has been tied and cut close to the baby's body. This ex- 
pulsion of afterbirth and cord is the third stage of labor. It usually lasts 
only a few minutes and is felt by the mother as a series of pains similar 
to those which caused the birth of the baby. They bring about the 
final separation of the placenta from the uterine wall. The doctor ex- 
amines the materials carefully to make sure that the placenta has been 
completely expelled after the birth of the baby, because of complications 
which might otherwise arise. 

Abortions and Miscarriages 

The emptying of the uterus before full term (nine months) is not un- 
common, occurring in one out of every five pregnancies. The popular 
term miscarriage refers to the accidental or spontaneous emptying of 
the pregnant uterus, while an abortion is generally held to mean the 
act of artificially relieving the pregnant uterus of its contents. In medi- 
cal language an abortion is the expulsion of the fetus and placenta for 
any cause between the time of conception and the twenty-eighth week 
of pregnancy. Between this period and full term, expulsion of the baby 
is called premature labor. 

The cause of most miscarriages is unknown. Some may be due to 
defective germ plasm (bad eggs or sperms). Other causes are maternal 
diseases, such as chronic kidney disease or syphilis, and abnormalities, 
such as tumors of the uterus. Injuries and shock to the mother are not 
usually sufficient in themselves to precipitate a miscarriage. 

Occasionally it is necessary for a physician to terminate a pregnancy 
to save a mother's life. This is called a therapeutic abortion and is done 
only under the most favorable conditions. It must be medically justi- 

FIG. 10 Labor: Cervix Dilating and Bag of Waters 
FIG. 1 1 Full Dilation, Cervix High, Head Deep in Pelvis 

Photos by Dickinson-Belskie 


FIG. 12 Birth of Shoulders Rotation 





FIG. 13 Third Stage of Labor 


fied and officially authorized. Unless carried out in a recognized hospi- 
tal by a competent physician under the conditions just specified, inter- 
rupting a pregnancy by destroying the fetus is legally forbidden in most 
states, and known as criminal abortion. The dangers of infection and 
hemorrhage are great, since criminal abortions are usually performed 
under most unfortunate conditions by practitioners of questionable skill 
and training. Since there is no known medication which when taken by 
mouth will empty the uterus of its contents without grave danger to the 
woman, the abortionist must resort to surgical procedures. These are 
usually performed without complete antiseptic safeguards and they ex- 
act a heavy toll of maternal lives. If you or any of your friends are con- 
sidering an abortion stop! Talk it over with your family doctor. It's 
a privilege to have children, and some women may become pregnant 
only once in their life span. 4 

The Rh Factor 5 

Since 1941, when it was first discovered, there have been hundreds of 
articles on the Rh factor in the blood. Many of these discuss the pos- 
sible damage that may be done to the fetus in the mother whose Rh 
blood type is incompatible with that of the father. 

Approximately 85 per cent of the white population of the United 
States have Rh positive blood. That is, they have blood containing 
one or more Rh factors. The other 1 5 per cent have Rh negative blood 
containing no Rh factor. Actually there are several varieties in the Rh 
family, but the above is roughly correct. 

When both father and mother have the same Rh blood type there 
is no difficulty. Or if the mother is Rh positive, all goes well. But 
when an Rh positive man and an Rh negative woman have an Rh posi- 
tive child, then the Rh positive blood cells from the fetal circulation 
may escape into the mother's blood stream. There they stimulate the 
mother's blood to produce antibodies capable of destroying the Rh posi- 
tive blood cells. These antibodies enter the fetal circulation and attack 
the baby's blood cells, producing erythroblastosis, or hemolytic disease. 
Some of the usual symptoms of this disease are jaundice, anemia, and 

4 See How Does Your Baby Grow? (New York: Maternity Center Association, 
1942), p. 12. 

5 From Evelyn Duvall, Facts of Life and Love (New York: Association Press 
1950), pp. 70-71. 


general edema, or swelling, in the baby. Such babies may die as they 
near term, or soon after birth, or they may survive and be perfectly 
normal children. 

In spite of all the public concern, this disease is not very common. 
Out of 80,000 births in Chicago in 1948, only twenty infant deaths 
were known to be from erythroblastosis, according to Dr. Edith Potter, 
pathologist at Chicago Lying-in Hospital. One reason why this is a 
much lower incidence than might be expected (when 15 per cent of the 
white women are Rh negative) is that other conditions besides the Rh 
factor must be present in order for the disease to develop. For in- 
stance, this difficulty is not usual in the first-born. It is after antibodies 
have been built up in the mother's blood by previous pregnancies that 
the baby may be affected. Secondly, there must be some leakage in the 
fetal and maternal circulations in the placenta in order for the red 
blood cells of the baby to reach the mother's blood stream. Usually the 
circulation of blood in the baby and in the mother is kept separate, 
each within its own blood vessels. 

Therefore, although some doctors will give tests for the Rh factor 
in the blood of couples about to be married, this is not yet usual prac- 
tice. The reason is that the discovery of incompatible blood types is 
not necessarily a prognosis of Rh trouble in pregnancy, as we have seen 
above, and therefore should not be a deterrent for the marriage or the 
parenthood of the couple involved. 

Blood studies for the Rh factor may be personally reassuring to some 
couples with personal fears about it (because of difficulties with it 
among family or friends, or the anxiety produced by wide-spread pub- 
licity of it), since the chances are very much in the direction of a favor- 
able combination of Rh blood types in any individual couple. 

Infertility and Sterility 

One out of every ten couples who want children are unable to have 
them. This inability to conceive is called infertility, which is treatable, 
or sterility, if the inability is permanent, and may be due to many causes. 
Sometimes the male sperms are not numerous enough or sufficiently 
active to reach and fertilize the egg. Rest, improved health, and medi- 
cal treatment may correct the condition sufficiently for conception to 
take place. In the woman the cause may be i) immature or infertile 


sex organs, 2) a tilted uterus, 3) obstructions of the cervix, 4) unfavor- 
able vaginal secretions which affect the sperms' motility, 5) glandular 
deficiencies, or 6) closed tubes which make it impossible for the sperm 
and the egg to meet. Infertility clinics in our larger maternity hospitals 
are successfully treating many couples who desire their own children, 
with many responding favorably to treatment. 

Test Tube Babies. Modern science is not yet able to grow babies in 
a test tube, but some advance has been made in helping couples who 
want babies to have them. Sometimes the treatment of the physician 
or of the infertility clinic is not enough to assure the couple of concep- 
tion. When the man has insufficient or inadequate sperm, and remedial 
treatment does not correct his condition, the only way his wife may be- 
come pregnant is through impregnation with other sperm. The careful 
physician makes sure that the use of other sperm will be acceptable 
psychologically to both members of the couple, then selects a semen 
donor whose health and heredity are acceptable and compatible, and 
with a syringe deposits the semen donation in the upper end of the 
vagina, or directly into the uterus at the time of the month most favor- 
able to conception. Legal tangles (the baby is not the husband's), re- 
ligious, social, and psychological problems, and difficulties of matching 
donors to recipients without the knowledge of either keep artificial in- 
semination from becoming widely accepted. It has promise, however, 
for the many couples who would otherwise be childless, and is men- 
tioned in the recent literature as a possibility for some couples whose 
Rh blood types are incompatible and who have in previous pregnancies 
faced the frustration of miscarriage or fetal death. Some eugenists favor 
artificial insemination as a means of improving the human stock, as has 
been common practice in animal husbandry for many years, but to date 
the practice remains more of an intriguing possibility than an actuality 
for the average couple. 


The science of improving human stock by influencing the hereditary 
process is called eugenics. The methods suggested vary all the way from 
encouraging biologically superior people to have more children (by sub- 
sidizing "good" families, improving maternal and infant care, etc.) to 
sterilizing the biologically unfit, so that they cannot reproduce their 


kind. Each individual concerns himself with eugenics when he con- 
siders the factors in his own and his mate's family background which 
may affect the children of the marriage. Such questions as the follow- 
ing might be asked: What hereditary weaknesses occur in either of our 
families? What chances are there that an aunt's insanity or a brother's 
epilepsy or an uncle's hemophilia might appear in our children? These 
are technical questions, the answers to which are best worked out with 
a professional investigator through detailed study of the individual case. 
Healthy babies born of good stock to couples who intelligently plan 
for their arrival are the hope of the nation and the joy of their parents. 

Selected Readings 

BROWN, FRED, AND KEMPTON, RUDOLF, Sex Questions and Answers (New 

York: McGraw-Hill, 1950). 
DICKINSON, ROBERT, AND BELSKiE, ABRAM, Birth Atlas, Second Edition (New 

York: Maternity Center Association, 1943). 
DUVALL, EVELYN, Facts of Life and Love (New York: Association Press, 

1950), Chap. 3. 

EASTMAN, NICHOLSON, Expectant Motherhood (Boston: Little, Brown, 

ETS, MARIE HALL, The Story of a Baby (New York: Viking, 1939) . 

FISHBEIN, MORRIS, AND BURGESS, ERNEST (EDS.), Successful Marriage (Gar- 
den City: Doubleday, 1947), Part II, Chap. 10; Part III, chaps. 1-5. 

GILBERT, MARGARET, Biography of the Unborn (Baltimore: Williams and 
Wilkins, 1938). 

GOODRICH, FREDERICK w., JR., Natural Childbirth, A Manual for Expectant 
Parents (New York: Prentice-Hall, 1950). 

GUTTMACHER, ALAN, Having a Baby: A Guide for Expectant Parents (New 
York: Signet, 1947). 

, The Story of Human Birth (New York: Pelican, 1947). 

LANDIS, JUDSON, AND LANDis, MARY, Building a Successful Marriage (New 
York: Prentice-Hall, 1948), Chap. 18. 

MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY, The Miracle of Growth (Urbana: Uni- 
versity of Illinois Press, 1950). 

SCHEINFELD, AMRAM, The New You and Heredity (Philadelphia: Lippin- 
cott, 1950). 

VAN BLARCOM, CAROLYN, AND CORBIN, HAZEL, Getting Ready to Be a Mother 
(New York: Macmillan, 1940). 

Technical References 

NEWMAN, H. H., Multiple Human Births (Garden City: Doubleday, 1940). 
OSBORN, FREDERICK, Preface to Eugenics, Revised Edition (New York: 
Harper, 1951). 


PARSHLEY, H. M., The Science of Human Reproduction (New York: Norton, 

POTTER, EDITH, Fundamentals of Human Reproduction (New York: 

McGraw-Hill, 1948). 

- , Rh (Chicago: Yearbook Publishers, 1947). 
SCHATKIN, s. B., "Artificial Insemination: Legal Aspects (human)," Human 

Fertility (June, 1948). 
SNYDER, L. H., "The Genetic Approach to Human Individuality/' Science 

Monthly (March, 1949). 
STERN, CURT, 'The 'Black Baby of White Parents' Myth," Journal of He- 

redity (August, 1945). 


Stillbirths," American Journal of Physical Anthropology (1949), No. 7, 
pp. i, 2. 

WIENER, A. s., AND OTHERS, "Heredity of the 'Rh' Blood Types," American 
Journal of Human Genetics (December, 1949). 


"Why didn't someone tell me?" 


How soon after marriage should the first baby be planned for? 

How painful is childbirth? 

How does it feel to be a father? 

Why is prenatal care important? 


a normal manifestation of our growth as persons. For the couple ready 
for this step, having a baby is a supremely satisfying experience. There 
is more to having a child than just wanting it, however. This chapter 
is concerned with the preparations and adjustments couples make in 
readying themselves for parenthood. 

Why Have Babies? 

We have babies because we want them. Powerful physical, psycho- 
logical, and social forces drive us into the experience of parenthood. 
No substitute has been devised to return satisfactions equal to those re- 
ceived from bearing and rearing children. One expert summarizes the 
fundamental gratification of pregnancy, childbirth, and child rearing 
for women when he writes: "The bearing and rearing of children is 
woman's greatest achievement and the climax of her erotic expres- 
sion . . . not only her greatest joy, but the source of her greatest 
power." a Having a family is a fulfillment of a couple's desire to estab- 
lish a home of their own. 

1 Karl Menninger, Love against Hate (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1942), 



Studies of both college and noncollege young people indicate that 
they are looking forward eagerly to parenthood. Increasingly both boys 
and girls are signing up for courses in child care and are becoming in- 
tellectually interested in parenthood long before they are ready chrono- 
logically to become parents. 

How do we explain such interest in having babies? One explana- 
tion is that each one of us has played the role of parent in childhood 
play groups and in his daydreams for years. When we marry it seems 
only right and natural that we should have children in our family. This 
expectation is derived from having been reared in a family and having 
learned so satisfyingly the parental roles. 

Social pressures add their weight to bring couples^ around to starting 
a family. It is the thing to do after a few months of marriage. Other 
couples married about the same time blossom forth with baby carriages 
and beaming smiles, leaving laggards feeling strangely empty and fruit- 
less. Bridge table and back-yard discussion among women, and golf and 
office conversation among men, center on first teeth, bright sayings, and 
recent accomplishments of babies. Parents of the newly married are re- 
minded of their desire to become grandparents and may exert their in- 
fluence in that direction. Attractive advertisements in magazines and 









ill. 6 





From "Divorce and Size of Family," Metropolitan Life Insurance Company 
Statistical Bulletin, 31, February 1950. p. 2. 


daily papers are another insidious force in stimulating interest pic- 
ture after picture shows winsome cherubs clothed in beguiling infant- 
wear, eating healthful cereal, and sleeping under downy quilts. No 
wonder the childless couple conclude that "all the world is having babies 
and we should have one too." 

"More divorces have been prevented by a youngster's cry or smile 
than by any legislation," writes an eminent psychiatrist. 2 The fewer 
children, the higher the divorce rate, as seen in the chart above. 3 For 
couples without children the divorce rate in 1948 was 15.3 per 1,000. 
Where one child was present the rate was 11.6 per 1,000. The figure 
steadily decreases until we find in families with four or more children, 
a rate of 4.6. These findings indicate that the relative frequency of di- 
vorce is greater for families without children than for families with 
children. Yet, the presence of children is not necessarily a deterrent to 
divorce. It is possible that in most cases both divorce and childlessness 
result from more fundamental factors in the marital relationship. Con- 
versely, children seem to be symbolic of the permanence of the mar- 

Time to Have the Baby 

Many couples need time to work out the adjustments of a new marriage 
before adding pregnancy and its complications. First, the couple needs 
to adjust to living as two, to work out the routines of marriage and 
establish firmly the unity of the relation. All told, this process may take 
several months. 

There are dangers, however, in postponing the first baby too long. 
The couple should not wait until they have enough money to take care 
of a child. Furniture, automobile, travel, can easily become an estab- 
lished part of the budget, so that children may never find a place. The 
young wife who works to save money for a family may find that her 
earnings serve only to advance the couple to a plane of living which they 
are reluctant to relinquish in favor of a baby. 

Recent studies of Dr. Nicholson Eastman at Johns Hopkins Univer- 

2 John Levy and Ruth Munroe, The Happy Family (New York: Knopf, 1938), 
p. 240. 

3 See also Paul H. Jacobson, "Differentials in Divorce by Duration of Marriage 
and Size of Family," American Sociological Review (April, 1950), Vol. 15, pp. 235- 


sity indicate conclusively that the age of the mother is of great impor- 
tance in the bearing and delivering of babies. The decade between 
twenty and thirty in the woman's life is the optimum period for child- 
bearing. The older the mother above thirty, the more dangerous is 
childbearing both for her and for the child. 

Another important factor to consider is the readiness of the mother 
for a baby. A teen-age girl is rarely sufficiently grown up herself to sin- 
cerely want a baby and to be able to love it and care for it properly. 
The older woman likewise faces emotional difficulties in relating herself 
to her first baby. If she has wanted one for years, her final joy in having 
it may make for more possessive attachment than is good for the child. 
If she has been long postponing the baby's arrival, she may not really 
want one when it does arrive. Her ways may be fixed and her life 
routinized along other channels which may make it difficult to accept a 
child fully into the household. 

The time of year may be a factor to consider in deciding when to 
have a baby. Since babies are especially susceptible to respiratory dis- 
eases and food infections during the first year of life, the autumn is a 
more desirable season than midsummer or winter. The Children's 
Bureau finds that the death rate of tiny babies is highest during July 
and August, especially in those parts of the country where refrigeration 
is not universally available. When the couple is prepared to provide 
adequate care for the infant, the seasonal factor may be of less impor- 
tance than other matters of personal and family convenience. 

The time to have a baby is when you want it! More important than 
all external factors is the genuine desire of both husband and wife for 
the baby. Child development studies have shown without doubt that 
being wanted is of primary importance in the well-being of the child. 
When a couple is ready and eager for children, then is the time to have 

How Much Do Children Cost? 

Children are expensive. They may have been an economic asset back 
on the farm where "a kid could earn his keep around the place." Today 
children are an economic liability in most families. Yet, they are not 
"luxury goods" that only the rich can afford! On the contrary, as you 
study the chart on page 443 you will see that most children are in low 
and moderate income families. 



The cost of rearing a child in higher income families is proportion- 
ally higher than in more modest brackets. The Metropolitan Life In- 
surance Company, using data for the most part issued by the National 
Resources Planning Board and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, has care- 
fully compared the item by item costs of rearing a child to the age of 
eighteen in two types of American families : those having an income of 
$2,500 a year, and those with an income of from $5,000 to $10,000 a 
year. As will be seen by studying the table below, every item but food 
shows a considerable proportionate increase, while expenditures for edu- 
cation, medical care, transportation, and recreation show the greatest in- 
creases. If interest on the investment and cost of burial are added, this 
study concludes, "the total cost of bringing up a child to the age of 
eighteen in families with an income of $5,000 to $10,000 a year averages 
$20,785. This figure does not, however, include the cost of public edu- 
cation and other services furnished by the community, nor the value of 
the personal services of the mother." * 





Cost of being born 

$ 300 

$ 750 


















Clothing and shelter 










Medical care 





Transportation and recreation 










Total $7,763 




* By type of expenditure and family income 

4 Statistical Bulletin (New York: Metropolitan Life Insurance Company), 
January, 1944. NOTE: Since these figures, the most recent available (according to a 
personal communication from Louis Dublin, Second Vice-President and Statistician, 
the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company), are for 1935-36 price levels, and so 
markedly below those at midcentury, we read with interest from the same authority 
that, with a fixed income in a period of rising costs, the cost of bringing up a child 
will be raised by only a relatively small amount. Louis I. Dublin and Alfred Lotka, 
The Money Value of a Man (New York: Ronald Press, 1946), p, 57, footnote. 




One figure 
thirty children 

under five years 

Children under five years per 1000 women of childbearing age (15-44 yrs), 1940 and 1947. 
U. S. Bureau of the Census. 

In addition to costing money, babies make drastic changes in the 
pattern of daily living, especially for those young people who heretofore 
have been relatively foot-loose and fancy free. If the couple wish to 
rationalize postponement, they can find reasons aplenty for dodging the 
restrictions and responsibilities that babies inevitably bring. Husbands 
accustomed to the undivided attention of a wife will be unwilling to 
share with the newcomer. Wives who enjoy the role of "just keeping 
my husband happy" will rebel at the prospects of long lines of diapers. 

Moreover, the children of today are rarely financial assets except on 
a farm, where they may render some economic service and may be 
housed without strain. City dwellers find it extremely difficult to find 
apartment space if they are handicapped by little children. Landlords 
don't want them, in peacetime or wartime. An advertisement in a 
large city newspaper in June, 1944, reflects the desperation of many 


young couples with babies who have tried to persuade landlords to ac- 
cept them as tenants: 

WANTED - A place to live by couple with 
five months old baby of great sentimental 
value. Prefer to keep child if possible. Will 
drown if necessary to get roof over our heads. 

Discouraging as all these factors of cost and disrupted routines and 
housing would seem to be, the fact is that a great many people do still 
have children. Interestingly, new babies come in larger numbers with 
the threat of war and the increase of prosperity. The fertility rate for 
this country increased considerably during the 1940*8 as the compara- 
tive data depicted at top of page 344 so clearly shows. 

Children may be expensive, but it looks as though they are here to 
stay a vital part of the American way of life. 


Not every sex intercourse results in pregnancy. A couple may be mar- 
ried for some time before conditions are just right for conception to 
take place. Both sperm and egg must be right. The pathways that 
bring them together must be clear. And the timing of copulation must 
be such that the sperm reaches the egg while it is still in the tube (less 
than one full day's acceptance each month) in order for impregnation 
to take place. 

Presumptive Signs. The woman may diagnose pregnancy herself by 
the appearance of a certain combination of symptoms. No symptom is 
conclusive by itself, but taken together they give her the basis for seek- 
ing definite confirmation in a medical examination. 

The cessation of menstruation is usually the earliest and most im- 
portant sign of pregnancy. When a healthy married woman who has 
been menstruating regularly suddenly misses a period, it is a good indi- 
cation that pregnancy may have occurred. Occasionally a woman has 
one or two scanty menstrual periods after conception has taken place. 
More frequently, the menstrual period may be delayed by a variety of 
causes change in climate, certain diseases, nervous tension, fear of or 
extreme desire for pregnancy. 




Another symptom which appears in about two thirds of all women in 
early pregnancy is morning sickness. The pregnant woman will experi- 
ence waves of nausea for a few hours in the morning, but even this 
symptom may be caused by other conditions and is only a presumptive 
sign of pregnancy. 

A third symptom is a change in the breasts of the woman. Many 
women sense a fullness and tenderness of the breasts early in pregnancy, 
accompanied by a change in pigmentation of the nipple. 

Frequency of urination is also an early presumptive sign of preg- 
nancy. The tendency diminishes as the uterus rises in the pelvis and 
the bladder is no longer so closely associated with the enlarging uterus. 

The married woman who experiences a missed menstrual period, 
who feels nauseated for a while in the morning, who is aware of changes 
in her breasts, and who feels the urge to urinate frequently may well 
presume that she is pregnant. 

Pregnancy Tests. The woman may receive definite confirmation or 
denial of her condition from her physician, who will conduct certain 
tests before making a diagnosis. He will note changes in the uterus 
and changes in the coloring of the vaginal lining, and he may use one 
of several standard urine tests to establish the fact of pregnancy. These 
tests are based upon the changes in the hormonal excretions in the 
urine of the pregnant woman which affect noticeably the development 
of the sex apparatus or function in small animals, such as frogs, rats, 
mice, or rabbits. The great advantage of these tests is that they are 
remarkably reliable very early in pregnancy. They are well worth the 
extra cost if the wife needs to be sure of her condition early in preg- 
nancy, e.g., if she is a professional woman under contract for twelve 
months. In most cases the urine tests are unnecessary for diagnosis; 
the experienced physician can usually detect pregnancy reliably by the 
other signs, but not as early, not before 8 weeks usually. 

Positive Signs. As the pregnancy continues, many other confirming 
signs appear. Changes in the abdomen, the cervix, the vagina, and the 
uterus become apparent. By the middle of the pregnancy the fetal 
heart sounds may be heard. Fetal movements within the uterus may be 
felt from the fifth month on. X-ray pictures show the outlines of the 
fetal skeleton after the twentieth week and are positive proof of preg- 


When Will the Baby Come? As soon as the fact of pregnancy is estab- 
lished, the question inevitably arises as to just when the baby can be ex- 
pected. Labor usually occurs about 280 days from the first day of the 
last menstruation. The rule in most frequent use is the following: de- 
termine the first day of the last menstruation, add seven days, and count 
ahead nine months. The date arrived at, however, is only approximate. 

CHECK YOURSELF Check every answer that is correct in the following list. 

The first signs of pregnancy are: 

1 Swelling of the abdomen 4 Bursting of the bag of waters 

2 Lack of sexual desire 5 Changes in the "breasts 

3 A missed menstrual period 6 Movement of the baby in the womb 

* KEY -pajJOD 9jo c; puo g X|UQ 

There may be a leeway of two weeks either way. As one obstetrician 
put it, "If I could know exactly when babies would arrive, I could take 
my vacations like a normal man, and I could catch up on my sleep. Ai? 
obstetrician leads the life of a fire chief, constantly on call." 

Maternal Care 

Since maternal care became universal in America, having a baby is no 
longer the dangerous experience that it once was. The chief causes of 
maternal death are infection, hemorrhage, and toxemia, and can be 
avoided today by early diagnosis and regular supervision of the preg- 
nancy and birth as well as of the post partum period. That is why there 
is such a striking decrease in maternal mortality associated with births 
in hospitals, as is vividly shown in the twin graphs on page 349. 

When Should Maternal Care Start? Ideally the couple should have 
gone to a physician for a thorough physical examination before mar- 
riage (remember the premarital conference described in chapters Five 
and Six). The physician would note at that time any remedial oper- 
ation which might need to be performed before children should be con- 
ceived. If some time elapses between marriage and the time the couple 
is ready to conceive, another visit should be arranged with the physician. 
His go-ahead sign is based on a careful check-up paralleling the investi- 



gations which took place in the premarital examination. As soon as the 
woman suspects that she may be pregnant she should again put herself 
under the care of a reliable physician. After making a thorough physical 
examination from head to feet, he will take pelvic measurements to see 
if normal delivery or Caesarian section may be indicated by the position 
and size of the opening between the pelvic bones. Periodically through 
the pregnancy he will check the patient's blood, urine, rate of gain in 
weight, heart rate, and blood pressure. He will note the progress of the 
baby's growth even though his major concern is to keep track of the 
mother's health. These are factors which are all-important for the well- 
being of both the mother and the baby. Maternal care starts, then, be- 
fore conception takes place and ends after the baby has been delivered 
and checked over, and the mother is back on her feet again. 

You and Your Doctor 

Selecting a doctor whose education, training, and experience will assure 
both mother and baby of the kind of care they need is not easy for the 

UNITED STATES, 1935-1949 





























35 1940 1945 194 



























1940 1945 1949 

From Metropolitan Life Insurance Company SteJtatcaZ Bulletin, July, 1951, p. 2. 




Mortality in the first week of life now presents the greatest challenge 

Premature birth is the biggest 
health problem in early infancy today 

Under 1 week 

1915 1920 1925 1930 1935 1940 1945 1948 

Children and Youth at the Midcentury A Chart Book, Health Publications Institute, Inc., 

Raleigh, N.C. 

couple newly established in a strange town. Neighbors' recommenda- 
tions over the back fence are not reliable. Far more adequate help may 
be secured by calling the best hospital in the community and getting its 
list of physicians who deliver babies. Cities that have family welfare 
agencies, maternal health societies, and medical societies will offer fur- 
ther sources of information. The couple unable to tap any of these 
local resources may write to the American Board of Obstetrics and Gyn- 
ecology, 1015 Highland Boulevard, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for a list- 
ing of doctors in or near their community that have been certified by 
that board. From such a list a choice may be made on the basis of con- 
venience and personal preference. 

Many smaller towns and most rural communities do not have obste- 
tricians. A well-trained general practitioner can meet the obstetrical 
needs of most families successfully if he or she has the full cooperation 
of the couple. Pregnancy is a normal function requiring only regular 
supervision to keep the mother well. 

The couple's confidence in the doctor is very important. If he per- 
forms his function well, he will need to know many intimate details of 


the couple's life together and will want to advise them about many of 
their daily habits, including eating, resting, recreation, vacations, sex re- 
lations, etc. The wife will need to trust her doctor implicitly so that she 
will eagerly follow his directions as her pregnancy progresses. It is help- 
ful, however, to understand the reasons for the advice given by the 
physician. The husband must recognize that this relationship between 
his wife and the doctor does not exist to deprive him of his wife's full 
companionship, but to insure her health. Whenever possible, it is 
helpful for the husband to go with his wife on the first visit to the doc- 
tor, so that he may have a part in the general arrangements. At that 
time he may ask the doctor what the cost will be and agree on the pay- 
ments to be made. The couple may want to ask about such things as: 

1 The general condition of the wife and prognosis for the pregnancy. 

2 The time when the baby may be expected. 

3 Advice about diet, exercise, clothing, sex intercourse, bathing, rest, trips, 

4 Frequency of the wife's visits to the doctor during her pregnancy. 

5 The hospital the physician takes his patients to, and how arrangements 
there are made. 

6 Anesthetics that the doctor uses to relieve pain at birth. 

One outstanding obstetrician 5 gives his expectant mothers a little 
manual of directions in which he specifies the conditions under which 
he is to be called: 

Notify Your Physician at Once in Case of: 

1 Bleeding or brownish discharge from the vagina. 

2 Cramps. 

3 Excessive vomiting. 

4 Severe pain in lower abdomen. 

5 Headaches. 

6 Disturbances of vision. 

7 Swelling of feet and, particularly, of face and hands. 

8 Scanty urine or bloody urine. 

9 Persistent constipation. 

10 Sore throat or cough. 

1 1 Marked shortness of breath. 

12 Chills and fever. 

1 3 Sudden escape of fluid from vagina. 

5 Arthur K. Koff, M.D., Chicago. 


Some of the general questions about the nature of pregnancy and 
childbirth may be discussed. The doctor will be glad to explain why a 
mother's experiences cannot affect her unborn child, why certain in- 
frequent abnormalities and markings are unavoidable, why no one can 
accurately predict the sex of the child before its birth or determine its 
sex before conception, and why the mother's attitude and feelings are 
important for her health and well-being. 

Does Childbirth Have to Be Painful? Childbirth is painful. The pains 
which result from the contractions that open the cervix are sharp and 
increase in intensity and duration for several hours. The pains which 
mark the expulsive contractions of the uterus are intense, probably the 
most excruciating pain women ever experience. The knowledge that 
the pains are helping her bring forth her own baby helps the woman 
bear the suffering and to forget its agony soon after delivery. Although 
through the years ways of relieving the pain of childbirth have been 
sought, no completely satisfactory, safe, and universally applicable 
method has yet been found. Some of the newer methods such as caudal 
anesthesia, hypnosis, twilight sleep, etc., may present hazards to mother 
or child under certain conditions. The wise couple discusses the ques- 
tion with their doctor who makes the final decision. 

Natural Childbirth. Childbirth is a normal, natural process. Some 
doctors 6 believe that much of the mother's labor pain is the result of 
muscular tension associated with fear. The expectant mother is trained 
for "natural childbirth" by instruction in what to expect (thus relieving 
unfounded anxieties), and by supervised exercise in the relaxation and 
control of pertinent muscle groups so that she may cooperate in the 
birth process more effectively. 

Pregnancy Is a Family Affair 

The man who said, "We are pregnant at our house," expressed the 
"we" feeling that is so important for both husband and wife during their 
period of expectancy. Pregnancy is a social condition quite as much as 
a biological state. It involves the adjustment of both the husband 
and the wife, their relatives, their children already born as well as 

6 Grantly Dick Read, Children without Fear (New York: Harper, 1944). 


those yet to come. Yes, even more, pregnancy is of importance to 
the community and to the state. We find more and more laws intro- 
duced to assert the interest of the commonwealth in healthy, robust 

Pregnancy and childbirth can be a strain on immature young folk, 
but the experience can be and usually is a happy adventure for emotion- 
ally and socially mature people. They show it in many ways. The hus- 
band who learns early how he may help will find that his role is not the 
anxious one portrayed in the cartoons of fathers nervously pacing wait- 
ing rooms. He may assume certain responsibilities of helping with the 
housework, plan recreational jaunts that are possible for his wife, make 
furniture for the new arrival, cooperate in maintaining the diet that the 
doctor has prescribed, and provide many other personal attentions that 
do much to ease the wife's burdens and to help him share more fully 
the experience. 

More important than anything that the husband does is how he 
feels about the pregnancy and his expectant wife. If he is happy about 
it and proud of his wife, if he treats her as a real person and not as an 
invalid, he will be giving her the support she needs from him. The 
pregnant woman may become self-conscious about her figure and gen- 
eral awkwardness as the pregnancy continues and may need her hus- 
band's reassurance of his continuing love and admiration. Jealousies 
and oversensitiveness about her husband's activities outside the family 
are frequent and may be recognized as resulting from the restrictions 
imposed by her pregnancy. Even though his wife is not able to par- 
ticipate freely in the activities he enjoys, the mature man will show that 
he values her companionship. Her silhouette may not be what it once 
was, but their pride and pleasure in being "in a family way" compen- 
sate to both for some of the temporary cumbersomeness of the preg- 

Many couples openly enjoy their expectancy and take pleasure in 
thinking of themselves as parents-to-be. Men as well as women are 
eager to learn how babies are born and reared and cared for today. 
Classes for expectant parents are proving popular in many communities. 
Books on the subject of parenthood are read with new interest. Ex- 
pectant parents are most receptive to teaching and find that study adds 
to their enjoyment of anticipation. 


CHECK YOURSELF Check every answer that is correct in the following test. 

The husband who understands best his role during pregnancy is one who: 

1 Completely ignores his wife. 

2 Pokes fun at his wife's figure to make her laugh. 

3 Plans with his wife for the coming child. 

4 Is ashamed to take his wife out in public. 

5 Reassures his wife that he doesn't mind her changing silhouette and demon- 

strates his eagerness for the baby. 

6 Treats his wife with solicitude as if she were ill. 

7 Accepts pregnancy as a normal, natural function. 

8 Impresses his wife with his lore of stories about mishaps and difficulties at 


9 Does what he can to make life pleasant and happy for both of them. 

* KEY 6 'L 'S 'C 

Having a Baby with Its Father Absent. It is sometimes necessary for 
the husband to be away from home during his wife's pregnancy. Un- 
fortunate as this situation is, the mature couple can find much satis- 
faction in letters. Sharing the eagerness of anticipation, expressing the 
dreams of family reunion and the baby's future, choosing the baby's 
name, discussing detailed plans for the confinement and the care of the 
baby for the first few weeks until the mother is able to undertake its 
full care herself all these bring a sense of partnership to the couple 
even though they are separated. The prospective mother can reassure 
her husband about her condition by relaying accounts of her trips to the 
doctor, telling him what the prognosis is, how she is spending her time, 
and how she looks forward to her husband's return and the baby's ar- 
rival so that they can all be a real family. 

Adopting Children 

Not all marriages are blessed with children. Estimates indicate that 
roughly one marriage in ten is infertile for one reason or another. If 
the couple is truly ready for parenthood, emotionally mature enough 
to enjoy its privileges and responsibilities, and to accept the "chosen 
child" as their own, then adoption is a possibility. 7 

7 Lee and Evelyn Brooks, Adventuring in Adoption (Chapel Hill: University of 
North Carolina Press, 1939). 


Where to find a child available for adoption is a big question in 
many localities. It is not that there are not enough children needing 
homes. One child out of every eight in the United States is not living 
with both parents. 8 In 1948, about two million children under eighteen 
years of age were living with neither parent, and nearly four million 
children with only one parent. In 1947, the National Office of Vital 
Statistics estimated some 132,000 babies born outside of marriage 
(30,000 of them to girls seventeen years of age or younger). The rate 
of infants born to unmarried women 15-44 vears f a g e was nearly 
80 per cent higher in 1948 than in 1940. 9 

1940 ^ 71 infants born outside of marriage 
per 10,000 unmarried mothers 

1948 ^ 127 infants born outside of marriage 
per 10,000 unmarried mothers 

Without proper controls all these babies form a potential black 
market in adoption. The "baby farm" offering babies for a price, or 
a "contribution" of several hundred to more than a thousand dollars, 
should be assiduously avoided. Such unscrupulous outfits rarely offer 
the vital records, birth certificates, and other controls that should come 
with adoption. The well-staffed state-licensed agency, public or private, 
places a child for adoption only after a thorough study has been made 
to safeguard the future of the child and the foster parents. Such an 
agency can be located through the state or local welfare department. 
Adoption laws are built upon three important objectives. 10 

1 To protect the child from unnecessary separation from parents 
who might give him a good home and loving care if sufficient help and 
guidance were available to them; from adoption by persons unfit to have 
responsibility for rearing a child; and from interference after he has 
been happily established in his adoptive home by his natural parents, 
who may have some legal claim because of defects in the adoptive pro- 

8 Bureau of the Census, as quoted in Chart 13, A Chart Book, op. cit. 

9 National Office of Vital Statistics, as quoted in Chart 14, A Chart Book, 
op. cit. 

10 Adapted from Essentials of Adoption Law and Procedure, Children's Bu- 
reau Publication Number 331 (Federal Security Agency, Washington, D.C., 1949), 
pp. 2, 3. 



adopted by 

adopted by 

parent or 


From Children and Youth at the Midcentury A 
Chart Book, Health Publications Institute, Inc., 
Raleigh, N.C. 

Who had 
been born 




Who were 
placed for 
adoption by 

X parents/ 


y/ 45% X 

/ / / / s / / // 

11 parents 


2 To protect the natural parents from hurried decisions to give up 
the child, made under strain and anxiety. 

3 To protect the adopting parents from taking responsibility for 
children about whose heredity v or capacity for physical and mental de- 
velopment they know nothing; and from later disturbance of their rela- 
tionship to the child by natural parents whose legal rights had not been 
given full consideration. 

Once the approved procedures for adoption have been followed, the 
parents may relax and bring up their chosen children as their own. Not 
all the answers in the heredity-environment controversy are in, but there 
is evidence that children tend to resemble their adoptive parents in many 
characteristics more closely than they do their biological parents. 11 From 
what we know of personality development, we would expect this to be 
generally true. Surely one's "own baby" is not as carefully selected 
from the grab bag of genes as is the chosen baby at adoption! Parents 
mature enough to be ready to adopt a child take it as a privilege and a 
challenge, very much as emotionally mature parents have welcomed 
their babies from time immemorial. 

11 See especially references by Freeman, et al.; Newman, et al.; Roe; Skeels; 
Skodak; and Woodworth in Technical References at end of chapter. 


Marrying a Ready-made Family 

One way to become a parent is to marry one. In these days when re- 
marriage is common, it is not unusual for a man to find himself with 
not only a wife, but with a child or more as well, when he marries their 
mother. The stepmother so cruel and heartless in the fairy tale often 
turns out today to be a lovely person trying her best to win a place in 
the lives of the children of the man she married. 

Being a stepparent is not easy. After all, the others were there first. 
The children may be expected to cling to their original parent and to 
accept the new parent in a full-fledged parental status only after he or 
she has proven worthy. Jealousy and sibling rivalry that in other homes 
are but irksome interludes are apt in the stepparent's eyes to be un- 
surmountable obstacles, green-eyed monsters that will not be tamed. 
Discipline ministered with a casual hand by the "real parent" may seem 
like a threatening form of hostility or rejection in the hand of the step- 
mother or father. 

'Time is on your side" was never more true. Patience, understand- 
ing, and a willingness to wait and not force affection brings rewards of 
new family ties and renewed solidarity. Even teen-aged young people 
grow up and learn to love their stepparents; in fact that may be a good 
index of their growing maturity. As soon as parents and children seem 
ready, steps may be taken to adopt the stepchildren legally so that 
"your children" may be "our children" in the fullest, final sense. 

Grandparents and the New Baby 

Family solidarity at this time is often enhanced by the attention of the 
other relatives. Grandparents-to-be are especially interested in the new- 
comer. There is a sense of fulfillment in anticipating one's grand- 
children that even parenthood is said to miss. It is fortunate that the 
American trend toward excluding members of the extended family from 
the intimate father-mother-child constellation has been reversed with 
the increase in births under wartime conditions. Wisely managed, as- 
sorted grandparents are real assets to the new family. When help is 
hard to hire, a visiting grandmother who sees the new family through 
the birth and the confinement is a godsend. When new habits must 
be established around the new little family member, the going will be 


rough for the inexperienced parents. The perspective and the practical 
help of a grandmother who knows the way through the routine of bath- 
ing and feeding schedules is a real boon. When the new father and 
mother feel swamped with their new responsibilities, it is comforting to 
be able to lean for a bit on parents and to take advantage of their pres- 
ence to slip out for an evening's fun as a couple once again. 


If baby-sitters charge a lot, 

For services they render, 
Call Grandma in to mind the tot, 

For she's the legal tender. 


To be sure, grandparents do have limitations and should be used 
sparingly. Child training methods do change. But if grandma rocks 
the baby there are some child care specialists who will support her. The 
couple do want to feel that they are on their own and that they can 
manage their own family in their own way. But there are few in-law 
problems if the family members are well-adjusted persons. Modem 
grandmothers are as eager as their daughters and daughters-in-law to 
follow modern methods of child care. Together the two generations 
can greet the newcomer with a united front that promises well for his 

Having babies is just about the most exciting and satisfying thing 
that can happen to a family. The more it is shared and enjoyed and en- 
hanced by intelligent planning, the more satisfying it will become. 

Selected Readings 

ALDRICH, c. ANDERSON, AND ALDRiCH, MARY, Babies Are Human Beings (New 
York: Macmillan, 1941). 

BECKER, HOWARD, AND HILL, REUBEN (EDS.), Family, Marriage, and Parent- 
hood (Boston: Heath, 1948), Chap. 15. 

BOWMAN, HENRY, Marriage for Moderns (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1948), 
Chap. 15. 

BROOKS, LEE, AND BROOKS, EVELYN, Adventuring in Adoption (Chapel Hill: 
University of North Carolina Press, 1939). 

CHILDREN'S BUREAU, Essentials of Adoption Law and Procedure (Washing- 
ton, D.C.: Federal Security Agency, 1949), Publication #331. 

12 From The Saturday Evening Post, April 28, 1951. 


CORE IN, HAZEL, Getting Ready to Be a Father (New York: Macmillan, 

FISHBEIN, MORRIS, AND BURGESS, ERNEST (EDS.), Successful Marriage (Gar- 

den City: Doubleday, 1947), Part IV, chaps. 3, 4. 
LANDIS, JUDSON, AND LANDIS, MARY, Building a Successful Marriage (New 

York: Prentice-Hall, 1948), chaps. 17, 19. 

LOCKBRIDGE, FRANCES, Adopting a Child (New York: Greenberg, 1947). 
MERRILL, FRANCIS, Courtship and Marriage (New York: Sloane, 1949), 

Chap. 11. 
NIMKOFF, MEYER, Marriage and the Family (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 

1947), Chap. 16. 
PRENTICE, CAROL, An Adopted Child Looks at Adoption (New York: Ap- 

pleton, 1940). 
RAUTMAN, ARTHUR, "Adoptive Parents Need Help Too," Mental Hygiene 

(July, 1949). 
VAN BLARCOM, CAROLYN, AND coRBiN, HAZEL, Getting Ready to Be a Mother 

(New York: Macmillan, 1940). 
WALLER, WILLARD, AND HILL, REUBEN, The Family: A Dynamic Interpreta- 

tion, Revised Edition (New York: Dryden, 1951), Chap. 18. 
WASSON, VALENTINA, The Chosen Baby (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1939). 
ZABRISKIE, LOUISE, Mother and Baby Care in Pictures, Third Edition (Phila- 

delphia: Lippincott, 1946). 

Technical References 

BISKIND, LEONARD, "Alleviation of Anxiety during Pregnancy," Modern Medi- 
cine (May, 1946), pp. 311. 

BURKE, BERTHA, "Nutrition during Pregnancy," Connecticut State Medical 
Journal (September, 1946), pp. 744-753. 


Environment on the Intelligence, School Achievement, and Conduct of 
Foster Children," 2jth 'Yearbook of the National Society for the Study 
of Education (1928), Part I, pp. 103-217. 

JACOBSON, PAUL, "Differentials in Divorce by Duration of Marriage and Size 
of Family," American Sociological Review (April, 1950), pp. 235-244. 

KAVINOKY, NADINA, "Marital Adjustments during Pregnancy and the Year 
After," Medical Woman's Journal (October, 1949) . 

KISER, CLYDE, AND WHELPTON, p. K., "Social and Psychological Factors Af- 
fecting Fertility," Milbank Fund Quarterly (January, 1951), XI: The 
Interrelation of Fertility, Fertility Planning, and Feeling of Economic 

"The Effects of First Pregnancy upon the Sexual Adjustment of 212 
Couples," American Sociological Review (December, 1950), pp. 767- 


Midcentury White House Conference on Children and Youth, Children and 
Youth at the Midcentury: A Chart Book (Raleigh, North Carolina: 
Health Publications Institute, Inc., 1951). 

NEWMAN, H. H.; FREEMAN, F. N.J AND HOLZINGER, K. J., Twins: A Study of 

Heredity and Environment (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 


REED, ROBERT, "The Interrelationship of Marital Adjustment, Fertility Con- 
trol, and Size of Family," Milbank Fund Quarterly (October, 1947), 
pp. 382-425. 

ROE, ANNE, AND BURKS, BARBARA, Adult Adjustment of Foster Children of 
Alcoholic and Psychotic Parentage and the Influence of the Foster Home 
(New Haven: Yale University Section on Alcohol Studies, 1945). 

SKEELS, HAROLD, "Mental Development of Children in Foster Homes," Jour- 
nal of Consulting Psychology (1938), Vol. 2, pp. 33-43. 

SKODAK, MARIE, "Intellectual Development of Children in Foster Homes," in 
Child Behavior and Development by Barker, Kounin, and Wright, eds. 
(New York: McGraw-Hill, 1943), Chap. 16. 

STUART, H. c., "Findings on Examinations of Newborn Infants and Infants 
during the Neo-Natal Period Which Appear to Have a Relationship to 
the Diets of Their Mothers during Pregnancy," Federation Proceedings 
(September, 1945), Vol. 4, No. 3, pp. 271-281. 

TEAGARDEN, FLORENCE, Child Psychology for Professional Workers (New 
York: Prentice-Hall, 1946), Chap. 3. 

WOODWORTH, R. s., "Heredity and Environment: A Critical Survey of Re- 
cently Published Material on Twins and Foster Children," Social Science 
Research Council Bulletin (New York, 1941). 


It's Fun to Be Parents 


Do parents always have mixed feelings about their children? 
What does a baby do to the husband and wife relationship? 

Is adolescence always difficult? 

Are there methods of discipline that really work? 

Can parents be people too? 


and a brand new father. Each must learn his or her new role in the 
family. Each now has new privileges and new responsibilities. Previ- 
ous relationships change as each member of the family adapts and ad- 
justs to the newcomer. Even the family of many children realigns it- 
self every time another baby enters the circle. This stretching of the 
family ties is satisfying and challenging. But it is strenuous too. 

When the First Baby Comes 

There are at least three stages in getting used to a new baby. The first 
is the flowers and pink ribbons stage. Mother is in her glory bedecked 
in her best bed jacket, with roses on her table and solicitous friends and 
family asking after her and the little newcomer. Father, who has felt 
like a fifth wheel during the long days of the pregnancy and the in- 
terminable hours of labor and birth, now comes into his own as exuber- 
ant herald to all the world of the miracle that has happened. He passes 
cigars to all the boys and showers this wonderful woman of his with 
tokens of his undying affection. Everybody is happy. The parents 
are thrilled. Life is wonderful too wonderful to last. 


Not long after mother and baby have returned from the hospital, the 
second stage of parent-child relations is apparent. The exuberance of 
the first flush of parenthood gives way under the weight of daily diapers, 
lusty cries at 2:00 A.M., and the cleaning woman who didn't come. 
The insistent demands of a hungry baby break into the tenderest mo- 
ments of husband and wife. The mother's preoccupation with feedings 
and daily baths often seems to take precedence over diversions previ- 
ously enjoyed by the couple. Let a friend suggest a movie or an eve- 
ning out, and the chorus sounds from new mother and father alike, 
"What will we do with the baby? " Babies bring new responsibilities 
thick and fast, sometimes so fast that it takes quite a bit of readapting 
before things run smoothly around the little newcomer and his family. 

Before very long the family has a helper or two. Aunt Molly is will- 
ing to come in and stay with the baby occasionally. Or a trustworthy 
baby-sitter has been found who allows the new mother and father an 
occasional evening out to themselves. The routines which at first 
seemed so exacting settle down into comfortable schedules. Baby gets 
used to its food and sleeps straight through the night without a whim- 
per. Mother begins to feel more like herself now that she is around the 
house and doing her own work without getting too tired. It is fun 
wheeling baby to the store and back. Bath time has become a frolic 
for both mother and baby. Life is good again. The new family is 
really under way. 

This characteristic cycle reappears in various forms again and again 
in the lifetime of the family. Enthusiasm and the sense of being in on 
a wonderful miracle of life occurs many times as parents take pride in 
their children. But the heavy weight of responsibility is constantly pres- 
ent; children are a responsibility. It takes many years to work through 
the ways and means of handling these obligations effectively and com- 
fortably, but time is a great educator. And then comes the quiet satis- 
faction of being a family, the happy contentment so characteristic of 

Parents Are People 

Parents are people first of all. Long before the arrival of their children, 
and long after the children have grown and gone, they will be people, 
persons in their own right. To hear some talk, one would think a 


mother and father were born and brought up as parents. Unfortu- 
nately, few gave much concern or time to the business of being parents 
before they found themselves with their own children to rear. No pre- 
paratory training period was required before children were allowed to 
come into the home. No license was necessary before practicing parent- 
hood. Only the barest of biological essentials and social sanction were 

As one of the authors has said elsewhere, 

Parents represent the last stand of the amateur. Every other trade and pro- 
fession has developed standards, has required study and practice and licens- 
ing before releasing the student into his work. Before a girl can wave my 
hair or tint my nails she must have gone to school a specified number of 
hours, she must have apprenticed successfully under a qualified operator and 
she must have passed a state examination and become duly licensed. Nurs- 
ing, social work, teaching, law, medicine, welding, mechanics, plumbers and 
plumber's helpers all must come up to standards appropriate to their success- 
ful performance. Only one profession remains untutored and untrained 
the bearing and rearing of our children. 1 

There was a time when families were large. Then little girls learned 
how to take care of babies by helping care for younger brothers and 
sisters under the watchful eye of mother or big sister. There was a 
time when family ways were stable. Then girls learned to bake bread 
and make candles and churn butter and discipline children by watching 
and helping their mothers do these things, which they in turn would be 
expected to do when they grew up. Likewise, boys followed their fa- 
thers around the barn and shop and learned through years of apprentic- 
ing to play the roles they were to play later in their own homes. Now 
each generation finds itself in situations so strange that the learnings of 
childhood only partially carry over into adult usefulness. Families now 
spend more and more of their time in complex business transactions 
and community activities which remain mysteries to the children. Only 
the most fundamental tasks remain in the home washing dishes, 
laundering, cooking, and bedmaking. 

Parents have learned to be parents by being parents! Step by step 
as the children grow up the parents develop too; skills for handling situ- 
ations are perfected; what to expect becomes clearer. By the time the 

1 Evelyn Millis Duvall, "Growing Edges in Family Life Education/' Marriage 
and Family Living, May, 1944, p. 22. 


children are grown, most parents have some pretty good ideas about 
what they would do differently if they could start all over again. But 
by that time their children are out starting in all over again, for them- 

Parents start with their own particular concepts of what they may 
expect of a child. These ideas are gleaned from the expectations of the 
people with whom they have grown up. Although there are some com- 
mon denominators, true for all levels of society, as to what constitutes a 
good child, most parents follow the demands and expectations of their 
particular set in their judgment of what must be expected of children. 
Recent studies at the University of Chicago indicate that there are sig- 
nificant differences between racial groupings, and particularly between 
the various socio-economic classes, in what is expected of children. 2 

These specific judgments of what a child should and should not do 
are gathered from neighbors and friends who exert pressure upon par- 
ents to exact behavior of one kind or another from their children. 
"What will the neighbors say if I let him . . . ?" is a powerful factor 
in the disciplining of many a child. These social pressures tend to 
strengthen and to modify the earlier learning of childhood as to what is 
appropriate and inappropriate behavior. 

Parents tend to reproduce or to repudiate their own childhood train- 
ing in the bringing up of children. It is a frequent experience for a 
parent to find himself involved in a situation almost identical with one 
he experienced as a child. He suddenly finds himself acting out the role 
his parent played. It may not be a pleasant role; it may not even be a 
comfortable one for him; but somehow, it suddenly appears full-blown 
in an actual situation. 

Consider the case of Mrs. C. She is a modern mother, trying to 
bring up her child in a progressive manner. But one day in a burst of 
anger at her son's use of a vile phrase she found herself washing out his 
mouth with soap in exactly the way her mother had done when she had 
used unseemly language. Mrs. C. didn't believe in such harsh disci- 
pline. The methods which she was consciously putting into practice 
were more studied and less impulsive. But in the heat of the actual 

2 W. Allison Davis and Robert Havighurst, Father of the Man (Boston: 
Houghton Mifflin, 1947); W. Lloyd Warner, Robert Havighurst, and Martin Loeb, 
Who Shall Be Educated? (New York: Harper, 1944); and Evelyn Millis Duvall, 
"Conceptions of Parenthood," American Journal of Sociology (November, 1946), 
pp. 193-203. See Chap. I, p. 6. 



situation she reverted to what her mother had found effective. She 
was so identified with her own mother that in a crisis she reproduced her 
mother's method of discipline even though it was not her ownl 

At other times parents find themselves just as vigorously repudiat- 
ing the patterns of their own parents. There is John Q., for instance. His 
father was a harsh man, quick to use the strap or hairbrush where it 
would do the most good, if any of his children disobeyed or defied him. 
John grew up vowing that he would never lay a hand on one of his own 
children. No matter what they do to provoke him, he insists on reason- 
ing it out with them. Never once in his life has he raised his voice or his 
hand to his children. Because his father was harsh, he cannot be. In- 
sightful parents learn to spot these compulsive responses and to under- 
stand their causes. 

Parents Who Live through Their Children. Mothers and fathers who 
live vicariously through their children are doomed to disappointment. 
No one can live the life of another, not even of one's own child. But 
because of frustrations in their own youth, parents often insist on trying 
to find satisfaction through their children. Alice T. always wanted to 

"You're so disobedient, stubborn, contrary . . . Mother's proud of you." 

Copyright 1944. Field Publications. Reprinted 
by permission of the newspaper PM 


take violin lessons when she was a little girl. Her parents refused to 
allow this extra extravagance until she had mastered the piano. That 
day never arrived for her. Now she stands over her seven-year-old son 
insisting that he practice on his violin. He unfortunately doesn't share 
her enthusiasm for violin playing and is rebelling with all the fury of an 
active seven-year-old. So the mother is disappointed and despairing, 
while the son learns how to resist her efforts to live his life. Many 
parents are so eager that their children should enjoy all the satisfactions 
which they have been denied that they try to live through the child 
rather than with him. 

Parents Who Grow Up with Their Children. The secret of successful 
parenthood seems to lie in the ability of the parents to keep on growing. 
Parents who continue to find joy in learning show by their enthusiasm 
and interest that learning is fun. By being the kind of people who live 
eagerly, they show their youngsters how worth while it all is. 

Mary Ellen, like Alice T., always wanted to play the violin. She 
didn't get a chance until after she was married and had reared her three 
children past the diaper stage. Then she hunted up a first-rate teacher 
and began her musical education. She took her practicing seriously and 
was faithful in her lessons; she shared her little triumphs and failures 
with the family; she nodded understandingly when the children ran 
into snags with their lessons, for she knew what it was to unravel 
tangles. The children admired their mother's growing skill and co- 
operated actively in getting ready for the friends that she sometimes had 
in to play with her. When these little affairs grew into an informal 
chamber music group, the two older children begged to be admitted 
with their instruments. Today the whole family enjoys music to- 
gether. Practicing is not a matter of parent-child tension but an ac- 
cepted part of the whole pattern of family life. 

Of course not every family finds its satisfaction in music. It may be 
books in some homes; or scientific explorations in others; or shop work 
and household decoration in another. But whatever the parents find 
absorbing, these things the children will find interesting. Yes, more 
than that, parents who continue to cultivate their interests are appre- 
ciated and enjoyed by their children as real people. 

A father of five children put it neatly when he said, "It's more im- 


portant that children admire their parents than it is for parents to ad- 
mire their children." When parents continue to grow and to find life 
challenging, the children are led rather than driven into the good things 
of life. Discipline is relatively simple, because the parents are getting 
their own satisfactions for themselves, and because they are freer to 
understand and to deal with the children's problems as they arise. The 
development of the individuality of the child is assured when each 
member of the family is encouraged to develop his own interests at his 
own pace, without the stifling burden of having to satisfy the needs of 
another by the excellence of his performance. 

How Parents Affect Children 

Children are not chips off the old block. They are developing human 
beings with needs to satisfy and tasks to accomplish. Because parents 
are the people the child first knows and loves, because they are so all- 
powerful in satisfying his early hungers and funneling through to him 
the things he needs, the impressions they leave are lifelong. Just how 
this influence works in the life of any individual is seen only by careful 
study of his own particular life history. But certain aspects of parent- 
child interaction are so general that it may be helpful to consider them 

Meeting Basic Needs. Present-day knowledge of the basic needs of 
children comes out of a rich background of years of insightful experi- 
ence in learning how children grow and in learning what affects, for 
better and for worse, their development through the years. These find- 
ings have come relatively late in man's history. Many generations ago 
people generally knew that a horse which had been mistreated would 
probably be vicious. Centuries ago common people knew that living 
things required certain basic essentials of food, light, air, and favorable 
atmospheric conditions. When these elements necessary for growth 
were provided in proper amounts and at the times when they were 
needed, the organism, be it cow, corn, or human being, grew strong and 
sturdy, and thrived. When these essentials were lacking or delayed, the 
plant withered and died, the animal wasted away and became progres- 
sively unhappy, disagreeable, and listless. But it took the twentieth 
century to bring the scientific investigations and points of view which 


allow us to see children as dynamically growing, living organisms af- 
fected by understandable laws of growth which must be obeyed if life 
is to develop at its best. 

These new findings have competed successfully with many theories 
and platitudes about child nature that have been handed down from 
generation to generation by people trying to make sense out of human 
conduct and development. The earlier efforts to understand young- 
sters were well-meaning but not well founded and have had to be repu- 
diated or reformed in the light of more valid insights. Such time- 
honored sayings as the following are being revised: 

Spare the rod and spoil the child. 

Like father, like son. 

Chip off the old block. 

Children should be seen and not heard. 

Mother is always right. 

Cleanliness is next to godliness. 

A child is but a miniature adult . . . "little men," "little women." 

Just like his uncle Jim. 

A bad boy through and through. 

Treat a boy soft and you'll make a sissy out of him. 

You can't teach an old dog new tricks. 

Give a child an inch and he'll take an ell. 

Kill him with kindness. 

She's the spit an' image of her mother. 

Grandmothers always spoil children by being too good to them. 

If you are nice to a child, he'll take advantage of you. 

The school of hard knocks is the best teacher. 

Born under a lucky star. 

Some of these principles are so unsound that their influence is seri- 
ously harmful. Many of these statements are just not true and clutter 
our thinking with fallacies that must soon give way to more valid find- 
ings. Some are but partially true, needing considerably more qualifica- 
tion and modification than is implied. They all need to be examined 
carefully and revised or rejected in terms of the more valid findings 
shown in the table on pp. 372-373. Most of us are in the stage of clear- 
ing up our thinking about ourselves and getting the basis for under- 


standing our children that will help us supply their needs. Examination 
of this table shows the specific ways in which these human needs for 
security, love, response, and achievement may be met. 

Discipline Makes a Difference. Discipline which promotes the devel- 
opment of the child has six characteristics: i. it is firm, reliable, and 
kind; 2. it shows the child what others expect of him; 3. it encourages 
the child and promotes a feeling of faith in himself; 4. it strengthens 
the child's skills for better future performance; 5. it does not sever the 
child's sense of belonging to the group; and 6. it comes from mature, 
lovable adults worthy of being emulated. 

All too often discipline is a means through which parents express 
their irritation and annoyance. Children often act in ways which annoy 
adults, it is true. The love of dirt and of noise and of endless explora- 
tion so characteristic of childhood is an affront to the values of adults. 
There is nevertheless little justification for calling scolding and punish- 
ment in such situations good discipline. 

Haphazard techniques of discipline are likely to affect the child's 
feeling of personal worth, and his responses to other people may be ad- 
versely affected. Harsh, cruel punishment blocks and distorts the 
child's feelings for others and shakes his faith in himself. Discipline 
which alienates and isolates the child casts him outside the group and 
forbids him the privilege of being loved just when he needs it most! 
Lax and inconsistent treatment, on the other hand, fails to teach the 
growing youngster the necessary controls of society, so that he ends up 
like a ship without a rudder. To be effective, discipline must be ad- 
ministered by adults whose example is worthy of emulation and it 
should be firm and predictable. To treat a child otherwise is to play 
fast and loose with his emotions. 

Terman's study reveals that firm, but not harsh, discipline accom- 
panied by a close relationship with parents is related to later marriage 
success. 8 Marriage adjustments are but elaborations and modifications 
of the relationships built up in childhood. 

Look at Alvin, for instance. He is the product of inconsistent dis- 
cipline. He was the only child of an over-protective widowed mother. 
At times he felt overwhelmed by her heavy expectations. He spent 
most of his childhood dodging her passes and demands. He developed 

8 Lewis M. Terman and associates, Psychological Factors in Marital Happinest 
(New York: McGraw-Hill, 1938), pp. 228-231. 


elaborate deceits and subterfuges. Then at other times he could get 
away with anything. He would just creep back into her arms for cud- 
dling whenever one of his escapades had been discovered. His wife 
must now cope with the weaknesses resulting from the earlier inconsis- 
tent discipline. He keeps her frantic with worry, as he did his mother, 
as he flies from one affair to another, always returning with the little-boy 
winsomeness that was so effective in dealing with his mother's concern. 
He has carried over into his marriage the adjustment patterns he de- 
veloped in his boyhood. 

Sally developed quite a different attitude toward people in her child- 
hood. Her parents were fond of her and in love with -each other. She 
was brought up to know what was right and was given opportunities to 
perfect her skills in being a good girl. Her parents rejoiced in her 
growth and were understanding and sympathetic when she made mis- 
takes. She and her father were fond of each other. She loved her 
mother and wanted to be like her when she grew up. By the time she 
was in her teens she was treated like a young adult in the household, 
and she thought of her father and mother as persons rather than just as 
parents. She married a man as emotionally mature as she, and her mar- 
ried life is the natural extension of the fine adjustment she made as a 
growing girl. 

Discipline makes a difference! 


For the infant they come mainly through 

Affection. Being cuddled, t Given physical closeness, fondling, etc. 

Response. Being attended to when in pain or uncomfortable. Being fussed 
over, talked to, given attention, etc. 

Belongjngness. Being cuddled and given physical closeness, t 

For the young child they come mainly through 

Affection. Continuing cuddling, etc. Verbal as well as tactual demonstrative- 

Response. (Same as infant response.) 

Belongingness. Acceptance by his mother (and closeness to her and later to fa- 
ther).! Having a safe family unit to belong to (i.e., parents har- 
monious, so that belongingness is not continually threatened).! Be- 
ing given support when in trouble or doubt (in such a way as to let 
him feel he still belongs no matter what).! 


Por the adult they come mainly through 

Affection. Tactual demonstrativeness. Verbal demonstrativeness. Being loved. 

Response. Friendships being liked for what one is rather than for what one 
does. Loyalty. Sympathy. Understanding. Consideration, etc. 

Belongingness. Having a place in society at large, i.e., status (which involves 
likeness with others and differences). 

For the infant they come mainly through 

Sucking. t Cuddling. t General bodily comfort. (Hunger satisfied without a 
prolonged period of waiting, t ) 

For the young child they come mainly through 

Sucking.t Pleasure and interest in elimination: messing. t Masturbation. t Gen- 
eral bodily comfort. 

For the adult they come mainly through 

Satisfying sexual experiences. General bodily comfort. 

For the infant they come mainly through 

Achievement. Gaining satisfying response by crying when in pain or when un- 
comfortable, t Progressively developing body activities. 

Recognition. Being admired, having developments noted, etc. 

For the young child they come mainly through 

Achievement. Self-direction: maintaining independence in regulating own volun- 
tary physiological activities, especially eating and defecation; explor- 
ing the environment with all sense modalities carrying through to 
immediate goals the impulses of the moment. Learning to talk and 
communicate (progressive symbolization ) . Being able to accomplish 
comfortably what his parents demand. Physical efficiency. 

Recognition. (Same as infant recognition.) Having all accomplishments ap- 

For the adult they come mainly through 

Achievement. Vocational and/or avocational activities which can be successfully 
carried through to satisfying goals. Self-direction: being able to take 
responsibility and to make independent choices. Developing an in- 
dividuality which one can think well of in spite of a realistic facing of 
weak spots. 

Recognition. Having what one does appreciated and thought well of, admired, 
followed, etc. 

* Adapted with permission from Lee E. Travis and Dorothy W. Baruch, Personal 
Problems of Everyday Life (New York: Appleton-Century, 1941), pp. 80-82. 

t Items frequently frustrated in our culture. 


CHECK YOURSELF With the understanding of the basic needs of children gleaned 

from the table on page 372, indicate what should be done in each 

of the following situations. Mark the course of action you feel would most satisfactorily meet 
the child's needs and help him to be stronger in a similar situation next time. Place a (1) 
for the action which you feel is the best choice. Put a (2) for the courses of action which you 
feel might work. Mark the statement with an (X) if you feel that the action might be harmful, 
or not effective. 

SITUATION i. Junior, aged six months, sucks his thumb. 

a Tie his hands down to the mattress so he can't get his fingers to his mouth. 

b Let him have a little longer time at the bottle or breast. 

c Put a metal thumb guard on his thumb. 

d Splint his arm so that he can't bend his elbow. 

Give him a piece of zwieback or toast to suck when he is tired or hungry. 

f Scold him severely every time you catch him with his thumb in his mouth. 

g Slap his hands every time they go near his mouth. 

h Ignore it. Most babies suck their thumbs. He'll outgrow it soon. 

I Cuddle him a bit when he is tired and restless. 

| Hold him in your arms when you feed him. 

k Put bitter aloes on his thumb. 

I Take up the matter with your doctor or child guidance specialist. 

m Ask your mother what she did. 

n Try a little of everything. Something is sure to work. 

SITUATION 2. Sally, aged fifteen, stayed out a whole hour later than she was sup- 
posed to last evening. 

a Give her a good bawling out. She should know better. 

b Ignore it. She probably didn't realize the time. 

c Make her stay in every night this month as punishment. 

d Find out whom she was out with and forbid her from seeing him (or them) 


Buy her a good watch. 

f Try to find out why she was so late. Listen to her story. 

g See what she suggests for getting in on time after this. 

h Tell her she can't go out again in the evening until she's big enough to get 

back on time. 

I Thrash her. You can't let girls roam the streets at all hours of the night. 

j Call up the young man who kept her out so long and give him a good talk- 
ing to. 

k Discuss it calmly with her and work out some understanding about future 

nights out. 

I Say nothing now, but next time she is ready to leave the house remind her 

that you expect her in on time. 

m Give her an opportunity to help set the hour at which she feels she should 



SITUATION 3. Nineteen-year-old son George, away at school, wants to marry the girl 
he has been going with the past two years. 

a Absolutely forbid it. He's too young to know his own mind. 

b Pretend you don't care whether he does or not. 

c Go and visit the girl and get better acquainted with her. 

d Write George a letter giving him all the reasons why he should wait. 

e Wait until he gets home and then find out how he feels about it. 

f Let him do what he thinks best. He's old enough to know his own mind. 

g Go right down to visit him and put a finish to the whole affair. 

h Tell him if he marries now it will break his mother's heart. 

i Talk it over with a sympathetic counselor if it bothers you. 

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Sex Education Is Important Too. Little children learn by watching, 
imitating, and exploring. This is as true in learning about how their 
bodies are made and function as in any other area. To get the facts 
they desire about themselves and others, little children explore i. by 
asking questions and talking about how their bodies work, 2. by watch- 
ing and imitating adults, 3. by looking at the bodies of others, and 
4. by feeling and rubbing genitalia. Now it happens, in our culture, 
that all four of these activities are considered taboo by some adults. 
Parents are sometimes uncomfortable at seeing little girls running about 
in abbreviated sunsuits and are shocked to see nursery school children 
looking at each other at toilet time. A great many parents and teach- 
ers have been so frightened by false stories of the evils of masturbation 
that they severely punish and shame little children who touch their 
genitalia. Too many adults still are embarrassed by the searching ques- 
tions and interest of intelligent children naturally concerned about their 
origin, the functions of their bodies, and the happenings in human and 
animal families around them. Consequently many children are left at 
an early age with the impression that there is something dirty and 
shameful about the sex organs, and something wrong about sexual sen- 
sations. Adult embarrassment, uneasiness, and fear are transferred to 
the child almost without his being aware of it. As he grows older, sex 
references continue to bring feelings of guilt and shame. Dirty stories, 



"Dad, will you bring me home a baby sister like Mom did?" 

les, and other indirect outlets are found to take the place of the 
more normal, complete responses of sex love. Feelings of personal un- 
worthiness make it difficult to fall in love with desirable love objects, 
and control of the powerful sex urges becomes difficult. 

Parents who are more wholesomely conditioned and more aware of 
their own limitations clamor for guidance in the sex education of their 
children. Few topics are more popular in child study, parent education, 
and teacher training classes. Books like the following are basic. 

Books for Children 

BIBBY, CYRIL, How Life is Handed On (New York: Emerson, 1947) . 

DE SCHWEINITZ, KARL, Growing Up, Revised Edition (New York: Macmil- 

lan, 1949). 

Woman's Press, 1950). 
FAEGRE, MARION, Your Own Story (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota 

Press, 1943). 


LEVINE, MILTON, AND SELiGMANN, j. H., The Wonder of Life (New York: 

Simon and Schuster, 1940). 
STRAIN, FRANCES BRUCE, Being Born (New York: Appleton-Century, 1938). 

Books for Young People 

BECK, LESTER, Human Growth (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1949). 

DICKERSON, ROY, So Youth May Know, Revised Edition (New York: Associa- 
tion Press, 1948). 

DUVALL, EVELYN MiLLis, Facts of Life and Love (New York: Association 
Press, 1950). 

KELIHER, ALICE, Life and Growth (New York: Appleton-Century, 1938). 

MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY, The Miracle of Growth (Urbana: Uni- 
versity of Illinois Press, 1950). 

Books for Parents and Teachers 

Health and Human Relations (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota 
Press, 1947). 

GRUENBERG, siDONiE M., The Wonderful Story of How You Were Born 
(Garden City, N.Y.: Hanover House, 1952). 

KIRKENDALL, LESTER, Sex Education as Human Relations (New York: Inor 
Publishing, 1950). 

STRAIN, FRANCES BRUCE, New Patterns in Sex Teaching, Revised Edition 
(New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1951). 

, Sex Guidance in Family Life Education (New York: Macmillan, 1948) . 

, The Normal Sex Interests of Children (New York: Appleton-Century- 
Crofts, 1948). 

Gradually the old taboos are breaking down; parents and children 
alike are becoming comfortable about sex. The next generation of 
young people will not have to put up with obstacles now that the paths 
have been cleared. 

Adolescent Parent Interaction * 

Adolescence is almost as hard for parents as it is for the youngsters 
themselves. Psychologists have been dealing with the problems of the 
growing young person for years, but only recently have parents felt free 

4 This discussion is adapted from an article by Evelyn Millis Duvall, "Our 
Children Are Growing up," The Christian Home, December, 1944: a parents' maga- 
zine published by The Methodist Publishing House. Used by permission. 


enough to study the magnitude of the adjustments they must make as 
their children grow up. 

Mary Alice's mother smiled as she started to lengthen another of 
Mary Alice's skirts. "My, how this child is growing," she commented 
to her husband, who was just settling down to read the paper. 

"Wish she'd learn to pick up her things," he mumbled as he pulled 
out the tennis ball he had sat down on. 

"But she's really quite mature in many ways; why just yester- 
day . . . ," mother began again. 

"Yes, I know, I know. And last Sunday's supper was a masterpiece. 
Shows she can do things when she really wants to. .What gets me is 
that she's so unreliable, a child one minute and more grown-up than 
either of us the next. Ho hum, that's life I suppose." 

Yes, that is life, especially when children are growing up fast, full of 
contradictions as well as unreliability, full of mixed feelings for both 
parents, full of problems and puzzles and new ways of living and looking 
at life. But the mixed feelings that Mary Alice's parents share about 
her are only a sample of the typical mixture of emotions which most 
parents have toward their growing children. 

Pride and admiration loom large for most parents. That this child 
of theirs, so recently a helpless infant, a clumsy toddler, is now a crea- 
ture of size and strength is an overwhelming reality to face. The proud 
father and mother cannot help but feel pride in the skills and achieve- 
ments which unfold so rapidly as growing children get a feeling of what 
they can do; admiration for the way they open up new outlets for their 
interests; satisfaction in the promotions and the honors that come along; 
pleasure in the open admiration of friends and often of total strangers. 
These are familiar feelings to most parents of growing youth. 

Bewilderment, annoyance, and some irritation are not rare among 
the parents of adolescents. Mary Alice's father is right. When they are 
honest with themselves parents admit considerable irritation over the 
spottiness of their youngsters' behavior, annoyance over the almost com- 
plete disregard of adult values the noise and the untidiness and the 
crudity are difficult to bear. Parents are annoyed at the inconsistency 
and the unreliability of youth pajamas on the floor in a heap six days 
out of seven, and then the one day when the room is immaculate, a 
decorator's dream (Jimmy is expected over at four). The bathroom 
can be a mess four tubs out of five, and then such scouring for a chit of 


a scout leader who is dropping by to leave a package! Mary Alice may 
be too tired to study or help with the dishes but when Henry calls 
she's so peppy and full of life that one wonders at the source of all the 
extra vitality. Weeks without any real studying can be interrupted by 
a sudden burst that lasts for days and results in a stunning fifty-page re- 
port for a new science teacher. Thoughtlessness of everybody may be 
relieved by a devoted dedication to a particularly difficult task to please 
the family. Bewildering is the word for adolescent behavior. 

Wise parents realize that adolescence is the time for trying out adult 
roles. Old familiar tasks, like picking up clothes and wiping dishes and 
studying the same old stuff, have lost much of their appeal because 
they have already been mastered. Greater challenges are needed and, 
when recognized, are pounced upon eagerly. By careful observation of 
adolescent behavior, experts have discovered the tasks which young peo- 
ple strive to perform. 6 Parents too will see some reason for their champ- 
ing at the bit. Adolescents are in a big hurry to grow up and do big 

All this recognition of the nature of adolescent cravings goes just so 
far in helping parents. Because parents are persons with their own 
needs for appreciation and recognition, the collision of wishes is bound 
to be frequent and stormy. Parents really don't think their way through 
their youngsters' adolescence; they feel and storm their way through it 
with the adolescents themselves. 

Parents could probably take the mixture of admiration and bewilder- 
ment and frustration which adolescents bring them if their own needs 
for love and affection were not so hopelessly entangled in the family 
web. Time was when this same adolescent would rush in to be loved 
with the vigor of an affectionate puppy; then hurts could be kissed away. 
Cuddled in a lap, he could pour out tales of woe; troubles could be 
talked over and worked out. But now that he is older the problems are 
sometimes fought out without the benefit of parental counsel. The 
kids in the neighborhood may hear of defeats and tragedies before par- 
ents do. The youngster is too big to be cuddled, too big to be fondled 
and petted and tucked into bed, too big to be held in the lap or to be 
kissed as he liked to be once, and too big for the babying the parents 
so enjoyed. There is no longer the same overt love, the same respect and 

5 Robert J. Havighurst, Developmental Tasks and Education (Chicago: Univer- 
sity of Chicago Press, 1948). 


obedience. The authority held over the child has changed, and parents 
must change with it. New satisfactions must replace the old. 

Much has been said of the problem of discipline and guidance for 
these older children. At a time when he needs his parents most, when 
he is facing serious problems, making important decisions, meeting new 
hazards at this of all times he insists on his independence. 6 

"If only he would listen to reason," the harassed parent cries, but 
knows that now more than ever reason and the experience of his elders 
will carry the adolescent just so far; his own experiences must take him 
the rest of the way. 

Actually, the insistence of parents on the continued supervision of 
growing youth is derived only partially from their anxiety for his wel- 
fare, real as this often is. It is an expression of the emotional lag of 
parents who do not yet recognize the needs of the adolescent for inde- 
pendence. He was only a baby yesterday, and now. . . . 

The mother whose public kiss is rebuffed feels it deeply. She may 
feel hurt and humiliated and deprived of affection by this little person 
to whom she has given so much and who now withdraws so curtly. She 
can, all unconsciously, react by clamping down on the child's privileges 
a sort of "well if you don't love your mother you'll be sorry" retalia- 
tion. Or she may, if she is unusually mature and loving as a woman, re- 
joice that her young hopeful is growing up so fast, and quickly adjust 
her feelings to match the child's appraisal of his changing relationship 
to her. Mothers ought not to be surprised to find elements of all three 
reactions within themselves. After all, mothers are human too, with 
lots of feelings, especially where their children are concerned. 

Nor should father remain crushed when he finds others sharing his 
daughter's attention and affection. Some fathers are so openly hostile 
to their daughter's visiting swains that even the youngsters notice the 
jealousy that colors his severity. Other dads withdraw still further into 
the emotional doghouse so easily occupied by parents of budding youth, 

6 The author discusses in a high school text for adolescents the following: 


1 Adjustment to a changing body. 

2 New orientation to age mates of both sexes. 

3 Establishing independence from family. 

4 Achieving adult economic and social status. 
c Development of the self. 

Evelyn Millis Duvall, Family Living (New York: Macmillan, 1950), p. 84. 


while still others take their new places in their stride and find some real 
satisfaction in sharing grown-up thoughts and plans and problems with 
the bright new adults within the family. 

Of course, some families take emotional growing pains more easily 
than do others. The home where father has been boss or where mother 
has been always right for eight or ten or a dozen years will need to have 
some pretty extensive remodeling of its family patterns when the young- 
sters begin to want things their way. But the family in which the chil- 
dren have been respected as real people through the years, with rights 
and responsibilities in line with their strengths and abilities, can slip 
through adolescence without an emotional upheaval. That family is 
ready for growth because it has been promoting it all along; that family 
can adjust its feelings to change because it has had years of happy experi- 
ence in doing precisely that; that family can provide growing youngsters 
with the experiences so much needed by youth, and stand back satisfied 
that the children will not abuse their privileges. The pajamas in a heap 
will not worry that family, because it is aware that motivation for picking 
things up is around the corner now that the children are feeling more 
on a par with adults and their values. Irritations and bewilderment 
will be balanced with the pride and admiration which accompany them, 
because the family knows that they go together and that growth of both 
parents and children holds promise. The family can let little annoy- 
ances ride, because there are bigger things at stake in a world which 
calls for democratic living. Such a family is so busy putting its prin- 
ciples to work within the community that mother hasn't time to nurse 
her own hurt feelings, and dad hasn't time to bemoan the thoughtless- 
ness of youth. 

When the Children Have Grown 7 

With a nervous twitch Mrs. Brown stirs the fire in the fireplace. "My, 
how quiet the house is tonight!" she murmurs to her husband as she 
settles herself with her knitting beside him. 

Yes, it is quiet, too quiet. Mr. and Mrs. Brown are living in an 

7 Two thoughtful articles on the adjustments of parents in the empty-nest stage 
are available to the reader: Robert M. Dinkel, "Parent-Child Conflict in Minnesota 
Families," American Sociological Review, August, 1943, pp. 412-419; and Robert M 
Dinkel, "Attitudes of Children toward Supporting Aged Parents," American Socio- 
logical Review, August, 1944, pp. 370-370. 


empty nest. One by one the children have grown and gone off to col- 
lege, to work, and to homes of their own. At first there was a peculiar 
pleasure in being a couple again. The Browns took to fixing up the 
house and yard, things they couldn't afford to do while there were 
clothes to buy and tuition to pay for. Now that the house is as they 
wanted it, it seems but an empty shell. Too bad that it couldn't have 
been this way when the children were here to enjoy it, that this leisure 
so anticipated a few years ago has such a taste of dry ashes! Yet that 
is life, as much a part of life as the bustling days of infancy or the turbu- 
lence of adolescence. So, what now, mom and dad? 

Two things won't work. You can't follow your children. They 
have their own lives to live, their own adjustments, their own problems, 
their own families to raise. When crises come, the old folks will be wel- 
come for a while. But healthy young folks want to be on their own. 
You can't live in the past without slipping out of today's, realities. 
Memories warm for a while, but the embers die and the gray ashes are 
cold solace for an empty heart. Fingering old baby shoes and making 
scrapbooks of the children's past landmarks are week-end busywork, but 
such fare is pretty thin gruel for the hearty appetites developed through 
the years of family living. 

The only way open is forward. You can't go back. You can't fol- 
low the youngsters. You can't stand still. You must go on. Now is 
the time when you who have been developing interests outside your 
children go on cultivating them as you always have done. Now there 
is time for all the things you've always wanted to do ... to pick up 
that course, to train for this thing or that, to work for a cause or a move- 
ment, to open up a business or take a fling at art! 

As we close this section on parenthood it seems fitting to quote from 
America's Pledge to Children at the Midcentury, a pledge to all children 
from the Midcentury White House Conference on Children and Youth: 


TO YOU, our children, who hold within you our most cherished hopes, we 
the members of the Midcentury White House Conference on Children and 
Youth, relying on your full response, make this pledge: 

From your earliest infancy we give you our love, so that you may grow 

with trust in yourself and in others. 

We will recognize your worth as a person and we will help you to 

strengthen your sense of belonging. 


We will respect your right to be yourself and at the same time help you 
to understand the rights of others, so that you may experience coopera- 
tive living. 

We will help you to develop initiative and imagination, so that you may 
have the opportunity freely to create. 

We will encourage your curiosity and your pride in workmanship, so 
that you may have the satisfaction that comes from achievement. 

We will provide the conditions for wholesome play that will add to your 
learning, to your social experience, and to your happiness. 

We will illustrate by precept and example the value of integrity and the 
importance of moral courage. 

We will encourage you always to seek the truth. 

We will provide you with all opportunities possible to develop your own 
faith in God. 

We will open the way for you to enjoy the arts and to use them for 
deepening your understanding of life. 

We will work to rid ourselves of prejudice and discrimination, so that 
together we may achieve a truly democratic society. 

We will work to lift the standard of living and to improve our economic 
practices, so that you may have the material basis for a full life. 

We will provide you with rewarding educational opportunities, so that 
you may develop your talents and contribute to a better world. 

We will protect you against exploitation and undue hazards and help 
you grow in health and strength. 

We will work to conserve and improve family life and, as needed, to pro- 
vide foster care according to your inherent rights. 

We will intensify our search for new knowledge in order to guide you 
more effectively as you develop your potentialities. 

As you grow from child to youth to adult, establishing a family life of 
your own and accepting larger social responsibilities, we will work with 
you to improve conditions for all children and youth. 

SO MAY YOU grow in joy, in faith in God and in man, and in those quali- 
ties of vision and of the spirit that will sustain us all and give us new hope 
for the future. 

Aware that these promises to you cannot be fully met in a world at war, we 
ask you to join us in a firm dedication to the building of a world society 
based on freedom, justice, and mutual respect. 


Selected Readings 

BARUCH, DOROTHY, New Ways in Discipline (New York: Whittlesey House, 


(New York: Putnam, 1951). 

FRANK, LAWRENCE, AND FRANK, MARY, HOW to Help Your Child in School 

(New York: Viking, 1950). 

GESELL, ARNOLD, AND iLG, FRANCES, The Child from Five to Ten (New 
York: Harper, 1946). 

GROSSMAN, JEAN SCHICK, Life with Family (New York: Appleton-Century- 
Crofts, 1948). 

GRUENBERG, siDONiE, Your Child and You (New York: Fawcett Publications, 

LANDIS, JUDSON, AND LANDis, MARY, Building a Successful Marriage (New 
York: Prentice-Hall, 1948), chaps. 20, 21. 

MERRILL, FRANCIS, Courtship and Marriage (New York: Sloane, 1949), 
Chap. 12. 

RIDENOUR, NINA, Some Special Problems of Children (Philadelphia: Na- 
tional Mental Health Foundation, 1947). 

SPOCK, BENJAMIN, The Pocket Book of Baby and Child Care (New York: 
Pocket Books, 1946). 

TAYLOR, KATHARINE WHiTESiDE, "The Opportunities of Parenthood," in 
Becker and Hill (eds.), Family, Marriage, and Parenthood (Boston: 
Heath, 1948), Chap. 16. 

WALLER, WILLARD, AND HILL, REUBEN, The Family: A Dynamic Interpreta- 
tion, Revised Edition (New York: Dryden, 1951), chaps. 19, 20. 

Technical References 

BOSSARD, JAMES, AND BOLL, ELEANOR, Ritual in Family Living (Philadel- 
phia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1950). 

DAVIS, w. ALLISON, AND HAviGHURST, ROBERT, Father of the Man (Boston: 
Houghton Mifflin, 1947). 

DUVALL, EVELYN MILLIS, "Conceptions of Parenthood," American Journal of 
Sociology (November, 1946), pp. 193203. 

ELDER, RACHEL ANN, 'Traditional and Developmental Conceptions of Fa- 
therhood," Marriage and Family Living (August, 1949), pp. 98-101. 

LANGDON, GRACE, AND STOUT, IRVING, These W ell- Adjusted Children (New 
York: John Day, 1951). 


Progress Bulletins (160 Broadway, New York). 
NYE, IVAN, "Adolescent-Parent Adjustment Socio-Economic Level as ? 

Variable," American Sociological Review (June, 1951), pp. 341-349. 
ROY, KATHARINE, "Parents' Attitudes toward Their Children," Journal o\ 

Home Economics, Vol. 42, No. 8, pp. 652653. 



We give Thee thanks . . . 


When do interfaith marriages work? 

What kind of religion should you teach your children? 

What is the place of religion in the modern family? 

In what way are families and religion interdependent? 


chapter does not concern us." This may be the response of some read- 
ers; but they are wrong. For whether or not they think that they have 
anything directly to do with religion and the church they are inescapably 
involved. In the first place, all of us live in a society in which religious 
institutions and ideas are prominent and powerful. Sunday may not be 
devoted to religious purposes, but it is a religious holiday. So also are 
Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving. A large proportion of all mar- 
riage ceremonies are performed by clergy. Our ideas and ideals of 
family relationships reflect to a very considerable extent the influence 
of the church. 1 However, a family without church connections is 
not thereby to be regarded as irreligious. Every individual and every 
family has some kind of religion, good or bad, whether they know it or 
not. For religion, contrary to widespread misconceptions, is not the 
same as the church. In fact, some faiths, such as Mohammedanism 
and Confucianism, do not have church organizations as we understand 
them. In many societies there is no separate church, as religion is co- 
terminus with the tribe or state. In our culture there is much that is 
genuinely religious quite outside the church, for religion is basically 

1 For the sake of brevity the term "church" will be used in this chapter to des- 
ignate all types of religious agencies and groups, Jewish as well as Christian. 


what a man believes in and lives by. Every individual and every family 
must have some kind of faith, however limited and inadequate. There- 
fore we all face such questions as: What kind of religion do we now 
have, and how sound and satisfactory is it? How deliberate shall be our 
pursuit of religious goals? Through what institutions and practices can 
our basic values be most effectively achieved? Fundamental in the an- 
swering of each of these questions is the query, "What do we as a 
couple start with?" We shall begin our discussion, then, with the prob- 
lem of interfaith marriages. 

The Question of Interfaith Marriages 

Most authorities in the field of marriage including Catholic, Protestant, 
and Jewish leaders are agreed that interfaith marriage is risky, if not un- 
desirable. But young people themselves are increasingly disregarding 
these warnings. An extensive study by John L. Thomas discovers an in- 
crease for the 132 parishes included in the East and Middle East of the 
United States. 2 Roughly 30 per cent of all marriages sanctioned by the 
Roman Catholic Church were interfaith, and his figures show the pro- 
portion to have increased since igio. 3 Furthermore, these interfaith 
marriages were only about 60 per cent of all unions between Catholics 
and non-Catholics. 4 If these figures are correct, nearly half of all Catho- 
lics who marry in this country take non-Catholic mates. 

Objections to Interfaith Marriage. The attitudes which the major re- 
ligious faiths have had historically toward interfaith marriages are 
briefly summarized in Barren's People Who Intermarry. 6 The main 
reasons for their opposition can be stated briefly as follows: 

2 "The Factor of Religion in the Selection of Marriage Mates," American So- 
ciological Review (August, 1951), pp. 487-491. 

3 Two studies in intermarriage in New Haven, Connecticut, find that marriages 
of Catholics and non-Catholics have slightly declined. Ruby J. R. Kennedy, "Single 
or Triple Melting-Pot? Intermarriage Trends in New Haven, 1870-1940," American 
Journal of Sociology (January, 1944), pp. 331 339, and A. B. Hollingshead, "Cul- 
tural Factors in the Selection of Marriage Mates," American Sociological Review 
(October, 1950), pp. 619-627. 

4 Other studies of Catholic intermarriage are those of C. S. Mihanovitch, Fam- 
ily Life (December, 1948), p. 6, which indicated 25 per cent, and Judson Landis' 
study of 4108 families of college students, where he found an interfaith marriage per- 
centage of 23 per cent, American Sociological Review (June, 1949), pp. 402 ff. 

5 Milton L. Barron, People Who Intermarry (Syracuse: Syracuse University 
Press, 1946), and "Research on Intermarriage: A Survey of Accomplishments and 
Prospects," American Journal of Sociology (November, 1951). 


Catholic. Catholics regard their religion as the only true faith, the only 
form of Christianity which is both complete and without error. If a Catho- 
lic marries a non-Catholic, he is not to permit the ceremony to be performed 
by someone other than a Catholic priest. If he does, he is automatically 
dropped from the Church and lost to the "true faith." If the non-Catholic 
signs an agreement to bring up all children in the Catholic faith, the priest 
will perform the ceremony. Even then, the non-Catholic may fail to live 
up to his agreement. Or, by the very fact of not being himself a Catholic, 
he may weaken the faith of his children. 

Protestant. Many Protestants regard the Catholic religion as being in 
serious theological error. Those of "sound faith" ought not to run the risk 
of becoming led astray by "false teaching," or of risking the exposure of 
their children to it. 

Ideological objections are far more common. Many Protestants regard 
Catholics as being under the domination of an ecclesiastical dictatorship. 
Unless the Catholic is willing to give up his church, the non-Catholic must 
agree to bring up his children in a religion which he regards as a relentless 
foe of his democratic ideals. He feels that no parent has a right to sign 
away the rights of his children to grow up as free men and women in such 
arbitrary fashion. 

Jewish. Orthodox Judaism regards the preservation of Jewish tradition 
and practices of utmost importance. Intermarriage threatens the purity and 
strength of the Jewish faith. Nehemiah, in the Bible, felt so strongly that 
he cursed, struck, and pulled the hair of Jews married to foreign women. 
Ezra agonized over this same situation, and finally led a movement to re- 
quire all Jewish people to divorce foreigners to whom they were married. 
Many liberal Jews, however, feel quite differently. 

All faiths fear what is fairly well proved, that people of mixed mar- 
riages are less loyal to any faith than those in which both are members 
of the same faith. 6 

Religious Difference and Marriage Success 

Most people who marry, however, are not religious leaders, nor are they 
too much concerned about the effects of their marriage upon their 
church. They want to know, "What will union with a member of an- 
other faith do to my marriage? " Let us look at this problem! 

The first essential is clearly to understand what an interfaith marriage 
is. We usually understand that a Catholic-non-Catholic, or a Jewish- 

6 See the results of a study conducted by Murray Leiffer reported in Time 
(January 31, 1949), p. 64. 


Gentile marriage is interfaith (although the latter may be primarily 
intercultural). We know too, that the larger Protestant bodies are so 
similar that marriage across such lines rarely presents a serious problem. 
But the teachings and expectations of certain smaller groups, such as 
Jehovah's Witnesses, Mennonites, and Seventh-Day Adventists, are so 
much at variance with those of other Protestant groups that inter- 
marriage can cause serious difficulties. Yet marriage to one of the same 
denomination may also be an interfaith marriage. If one is ultra- 
conservative and the other liberal, if one regards church as very im- 
portant and the other as not important, serious clashes over religion 
may result. 

How do such differences affect marriage success? On the whole, 
differences in religion tend to make success more difficult. All the 
studies made indicate that the greater the similarity of religious back- 
ground, the greater the chances of success. The greater the differences, 
the greater the risks of failure. 7 (For supporting data see the chart, 
"Religion and Broken Homes/') 

Yet mixed marriage can succeed. Many do. If your marriage is 
mixed, you may have to work harder to make a go of it. But it is by 
no means doomed to failure. Church affiliation is but one out of a 
number of factors which can make for failure or success. Far more im- 
portant are such qualities as character, mental health, and the attitude 
which you both take toward your differences, religious or otherwise. 

The major problem of interfaith marriage will probably emerge when 
children arrive. Then your church may step in, not only in the person 
of the priest or minister, but also in the form of Grandma, or even Uncle 
Jim. Usually the children follow the religion of the mother, regardless 
of signed agreements or other factors, unless one of the couple is espe- 
cially strong in his convictions. But in the final analysis, the decision 
is, or should be, yours. We who write books can do little more than 
help you know what to expect. Here are some points which you will 
wish to examine with especial care. 

7 E. W. Burgess and Leonard S. Cottrell, Jr., Predicting Success or Failure in 
Marriage (New York: Prentice-Hall, 1939), pp. 50-5 1, 122-126; L. M. Terman and 
associates, Psychological Factors in Marital Happiness (New York: McGraw-Hill, 
1938), p. 109; Howard M. Bell, Youth Tell Their Story (Washington: American 
Council on Education, 1938), p. 21; H. Ashley Weeks, "Differential Divorce Rates 
by Occupation," Social Forces (March, 1943), p. 336; and Judson T. Landis, op. cit., 
p. 404. 



1 How intense is the loyalty of each to his own religious group? 
Mary was a Catholic and Jim was a Methodist, but neither of them 
cared anything about church nor had attended for some time. They 
were married by a justice of the peace, and after their marriage both 
continued to stay away from church, even as they had before. Their 
families made no attempt to interfere. In consequence their differ- 
ences caused almost no problem. 

On the other hand, Bill and Sally, who belonged to two different 
and extremely narrow sects, each regarded the teachings of his or her 
church as the only true religious faith, and felt that the other lived in 
darkness and sin. They had agreed beforehand that each was to go his 
separate way, but after marriage neither could bear to see the loved one 
going to hell. Therefore each made ardent efforts to convert the other, 
in which their families heartily joined. Bill and Sally never divorced or 
separated, but the constant tension which developed between them em- 
bittered the whole relationship and had an especially unfortunate effect 
upon their children. 


loth Catholic 
Both Jewish 


xed, Cotholic- 


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i:ii::!;j;i;i;il!:j:l!j:jij!^ Both Prote 


IIJillliiiiiliiiiliilllliilillllllllBI M 

W^SH^^^HUK^^&^^^^^^HI Both 

>nt Father- Cc 

tholic Mother 

:i:iii:ii!iii!iiiii;iiiiiii;:!iii!iiiji Protesti 

|:j:|i|. : i:|:::|:|:|:|:!:!:j:j:::|l|l|l;|:| Catholic Father - PrOtSStOnt Mother ijlji 

10 15 




Percentage of Marriages of Mixed and Nonmixed Religious Faiths Ending in Divorce or Separation, 

4108 Couples in Michigan, "Marriages of Mixed and Nonmixed Religious Faith" by Judson T. 

Landis, American Sociological Review (June, 1949), Table 1, p. 403. 


2 How many complicating factors are there, such as relatives and in- 
fluential friends? The church is not merely a religious body. Specifi- 
cally it is Mama, Papa, and Uncle Bill. If they object to the faith of the 
married partner, it is natural that they should bring considerable pres- 
sure on behalf of their church, especially as the children are born. Re- 
member that many parents give up their children with considerable re- 
luctance and sometimes welcome any chance to keep a hold on the life 
of the young adult. Zealous friends and members of the clergy are often 
eager to push the claims of their church, even when it means bringing 
serious discord into the marriage. 

3 What aspects of religion does each feel most strongly about? 
Some Christians regard dancing or attending movies on the Sabbath as 
a sin, whereas others openly encourage such activities. Among Jewish 
groups the conflict between those who observe Kosher and other ortho- 
dox regulations and those who disregard them may prove to be painful. 
Seeing the person to whom you are married freely indulge in activities 
which you have been brought up to regard as immoral is inevitably a 
strain on the whole relationship. Differences in theology indicated by 
such terms as "modernism" and "fundamentalism" may also cause diffi- 

Another phase of this issue concerns the whole matter of actively 
supporting the church. Fred believed strongly in the church and was 
an ardent worker in its activities. Before his marriage he had been 
president of the local Christian Endeavor. Later he became super- 
intendent of the Sunday school. His wife, Ellen, belonged to the same 
church but was decidedly lukewarm in her interests. Sunday mornings 
she wanted to sleep, or take a trip into the country. If Fred insisted 
that she get up and go to church with him, she resented it. On a few 
occasions she persuaded him to skip church and visit relatives, and he 
felt guilty and disloyal. As time went on, each found other persons 
more sympathetic to their own interests, and wondered about the de- 
sirability of their marriage. 

4 Is there danger that religious differences will be used as a means by 
which one can dominate the other? Sally and Bill, mentioned above, 
both honestly believed that their desires to convert each other were in- 
spired solely by religious motives. A psychiatrist would have thought 
differently; he would have seen in their efforts subconscious attempts to 


dominate, with their religious ardor used as a smoke screen behind 
which to conceal their desire to control. So it often is, as we have sug- 
gested, with interfering family members. 

5 Are there other strong bonds to compensate for the religious differ- 
ence? Doris was a highly educated Catholic of the liberal group. Jacob 
was a reformed Jew. Both, however, regarded their respective religious 
groups primarily as social institutions designed to perform social func- 
tions. Both were vitally interested in good housing, the improvement 
of government, and all efforts for social welfare. The children, when 
they came, were given a social interpretation of the religious groups, 
and as they grew up were encouraged to choose their own affiliations. 
This breadth of attitude made possible not only a harmonious, but an 
enriched relationship which brought them close together. Their mar- 
riage was successful because both were actually of the same religion: 
the religion of humanity. When the fundamental values of each are 
similar, the religious label is of little importance. 

6 What compromises are both willing to make to solve the problem? 
The church relationships of many people are nominal. They have no 
serious emotional attachments to any denomination or group. If this 
is true of both members of the couple and also of their families, a differ- 
ence of denomination may represent little difficulty. They will prob- 
ably solve the problem by belonging to no church at all. When a mar- 
riage partnership consists of one member who is very devout while the 
other has no strongly held religious convictions or antipathies, the prob- 
lem is also not impossible. The indifferent one will just turn the whole 
matter over to the other. If the two have real and conflicting convic- 
tions, or if their families have, the problem can seldom be easily solved. 
Sometimes one will yield to the extent of agreeing to bring up the chil- 
dren in the faith of the other, as non-Catholics who are married by a 
Catholic priest are required to do. One member of the couple may 
adopt the faith of the other. Neither of these solutions is likely to 
prove happy. However sincere the individual making the change may 
be, there is an element of duress involved. "She" would not have 
changed had it not been necessary in order to get her husband. Religion 
is largely a matter of early emotional experiences, powerfully related to 
family loyalties. One cannot change these as he would a garment. 
After marriage both husband and wife find that the one who supposedly 


changed is still what he was brought up to be and that it is impossible 
for him to be anything else. 

Young people can hardly be expected to be more rational in reli- 
gion than they are in other matters related to marriage. Emotional fac- 
tors will pull them on, for weal or for woe. Those who are determined 
to cross faith lines, however, can increase the likelihood of success by 
frankly facing the situation and coming to some agreements before the 
marriage. These should involve specific and definite decisions on such 
questions as the following: 

1 Who, if either, will change his church relationships? If this is done at all 
it should be done before the wedding. 

2 If each retains his separate faith, where will they attend church, if at all? 

3 In what faith, if any, will the children be brought up? 

4 Are parents and relatives to be consulted? This is one of the most crucial 
and difficult problems, since parental approval is significantly related to 
later success of the marriage. Shall we keep our parents informed as we 
go along, or just keep quiet about the whole matter, marry, and let them 
howl about a fait accompli? The latter policy has in some instances 
proved to be the less difficult. It also has its risks. 

Religion and Family Living 

Although church groups have always been interested in families, in re- 
cent years this interest has increased remarkably. At first such interest 
was scattered and often negative. Clergy denounced and "viewed with 
alarm" the increase in divorce. Then here and there a minister began 
to take a more constructive attitude, and to do "marriage counseling" 
on a sounder basis. The increased interest of church groups became 
evident in the widespread adoption of "Mother's Day," which was in 
time expanded into National Family Week. The letter from President 
Truman suggests the cooperative approach of this interest. 

In recent years, denominational groups have established extensive 
programs. Departments of the Christian Family have been established, 
and an increasing literature developed. The Roman Catholic Church 
has an extensive program for training its members for marriage and 
family living, in the Cana and pre-Cana conferences. The Method- 
ists have held national conferences on family life which have been at- 
tended by thousands. Jewish groups have given increasing attention 



January 30, 1951 

My dear Friends: 

With deep and sincere conviction I endorse the efforts of 
the Jewish, Catholic ;and Protestant faiths- to emphasize the strength- 
ening ; of spiritual life in American homes through the ninth annual 
observance of .National Family, ft'eek, May 6, to 13 > 1951. .This work 
provides /evidence of the value Americans place on the role which the 
family must play in preserving faith in our religious and democratic 
principles.- It also~ demonstrates the spirit of brotherhood and mutual 
responsibility in which the three major faiths in this country work 
together for 'the benefit of all citizens. 

Daring our heroic national effort, members of many families 
may be temporarily separated from one another by the requirements of 
-the armed services and defense industries. Such dislocations will not 
interrupt the basic unity of a family bound .together by love and a 
mutual faith in God.' 'The guiding; principles which the child has ac- 
quired in a truly religious family will give" him' moral strength and 
courage to face with confidence the uncertainties of the future. 

National Family Week gives each of us an opportunity to 
examine our own lives and see how we may further contribute to the type 
of family life which underlies the moral, strength of our Nation. In 
the uncertain days that lie ahead, America's spiritual strength will 
be a positive force in determining that the good and the right shall 

Very sincerely yours, 

. , Reverend Richard E. Lentz, 

National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., 

Rabbi Hirsch E. L. Freund, 
, Synagogue Council of America ^ 

Reverend Edgar M. Schmiedeler, ' O.S.B., 
National Catholic Welfare Conference. 


to what has always been the center of their religious program: family 

This rising concern has good basis in past religious traditions. Mar- 
riage, baptism, and the burial of the dead are religious rites which in- 
dicate the length and the depth of the concern of religion with fam- 
ilies. Clergy have always counseled with, and given support to families 
as a regular part of their duties. The theology of religious faith has 
made extensive use of family terms, such as the Fatherhood of God and 
the Brotherhood of Man. Yes, the relationship between religion and 
family life has been central and prolonged. Why? 

The Church Needs the Family. With few exceptions, people belong to 
and support churches because they have been taught to do so by their 
parents. Some parents contribute considerably to the religious educa- 
tion of their children. They read them Bible stories, or drill them in 
the catechism. In Judaism the main responsibility for the teaching of 
religion belongs to the family, not to the synagogue. A recent report 
states that in present-day Poland, every rabbi has been killed, yet the 
Jewish religion survives because it is being carried on by the families. 
Most Christians in America depend upon churches for the teaching of 
religion to their children. Yet it is the parents who largely support these 
churches, and develop loyalties in their children for them. Without 
such family support, no church could long continue without crippling 
losses. These facts are well understood. Less well understood is the 
relationship of family life to the central teachings of religion. 

Families Lay the Basis for Religious Teaching. Religion has not only a 
knowledge, but an emotional or feeling aspect. The knowledges of ic- 
ligion can probably be taught better by specially trained teachers than 
by most parents. But for some teachings (including some of the 
knowledges) experience in family living seems essential. A church may 
teach that God is Love. But love can have meaning only for those who 
have already experienced it. Most people, especially children, are not 
likely to have had such experience outside their families. And how can 
a child understand about trust and faith in God, unless he has had ex- 
periences with people whom he could trust, and in whom he had faith? 
How many teachings of religion can be understood, only by those who 
have had a background of appropriate experiences in their own families! 

So it is with religious loyalties. Religion will be important for most 


children only if they see that it is important to their parents. Parents 
may be able to give their children some knowledge about religion, 
merely by sending them to a church school where they will be taught 
by someone else. But religious attitudes and loyalties are usually 
learned only from parents who participate in and themselves support 
church activities. 

What Shall We Teach Our Children? This question has in part al- 
ready been answered. Our example teaches them much, whether we 
will or no. In the matter of direct instruction, those who belong to 
conservative groups have the simpler task. Their denomination usu- 
ally has clear statements of its doctrines, often printed in a catechism. 
The task of the parent is to help the children memorize these state- 
ments. But for parents who hold "liberal" views, the task is often diffi- 
cult. The impact of a scientific point of view makes them uncertain 
about religious doctrines. They see sincerely religious people who make 
messes of their lives and those of their children. They find it hard to 
see how religion has contributed materially to a solution of important 
social problems, such as war. They sense that there is something im- 
portant in religion which their children should have. But what is this 
"something"? Because of their own uncertainties, they either do not 
try to teach their children anything about religion, or they are so 
"wobbly" and tentative in their teaching that nothing much results. 
Often they feel quite guilty about their failures. But what can they do? 
After all, you can hardly teach your children what you do not have 
yourself! The discussion which follows is intended to help those who 
are bewildered, as well as those who feel more confident. 

What Is a Religious Family? 

Many people define a religious family as a nice, ordinary, respectable 
family with a religious "plus." This "plus" usually includes beliefs (as 
in God, Christ, the Bible, or the Church), practices (church going, 
prayers, and Bible reading), and probably a rather high moral standard. 
This, however, is a family with religion, not a religious family. (See the 
diagram, p. 398, which illustrates the difference.) Religion at its best 
is not an addition to life, but a transformation of life. A religious fam- 
ily does not merely add a religious "plus." It is a family organized 
around religious ideals. This religious core relates all aspects of life 








Beliefs f 



and Decency 



meaningfully to each other, and transfuses them with religious ideals. 
As a result, life is unified and takes on new meaning and basic worth. 
For the religious family, religion is not a set of often burdensome obliga- 
tions. It gives to family life meaning and purpose, and is a source of 
wisdom, insight, and power. 

Living Religion in the Family. The religious quality of a family is not to 
be judged by the fidelity with which parents teach their religious views 
to their children. Neither is it to be determined by the forms and cere- 
monies observed. Some will find prayers, especially at mealtime, to be 
a natural and helpful expression of religious faith. But whatever the 
form, we may expect considerable variation. 

Prayer, for instance, has come down through the ages in a multitude 
of forms. For some it is formalized and structured, the very words be- 
ing prescribed, yet for others it may be exceedingly spontaneous. A 
little girl shocked her formally religious parents by bursting out in her 
anxiety one evening with the prayer, "Oh, God, be with us, don't leave 
us now. If you do we're sunk." Surprising as this was to her parents 
who were accustomed to other ways of addressing the deity, the child's 
words had many of the elements which have caused prayer to persist 
so long as a satisfying form of religious expression. 

Man's sense of his dependence upon forces outside of himself has led 
him from time to time to clarify his situation, analyze himself, unify his 
efforts, and solve his problems with capacities that emerge out of the 
dynamics of the prayerful attitude. Aside from supernatural implica- 


tions, this approach is still sound, whether the rite be fixed or flexible. 
Similarly, other rites and practices of religion have their roots in human 
need and satisfaction and continue to have meaning for people to the 
extent to which they have been found effective. 

But religion is not primarily a matter of beliefs, practices, or institu- 
tional relationships. It is primarily a matter of inner response. The 
type of religion to which a man can respond depends primarily upon 
the previous development of his own inner life. Crude, spiritually un- 
developed persons will necessarily have a primitive and often tribal re- 
ligion, regardless of what it is called. In reading of wars of religion or 
persecutions made in the name of religious faith, we have often thought, 
"How could religious people do such things?" The reason is that their 
religious faith was an expression of the kind of persons they were in- 
side, and the label of "Christian" or whatever had little to do with their 
actions. We have often bewailed the distortion of Christian teachings 
by its avowed followers, but we need not be surprised. Exalted spiritual 
teachings can be understood only by those spiritually ready for them. 
If offered to others, they must inevitably be either rejected or distorted. 
Love can have meaning only for those who have experienced it. And 
for most, a sufficient experience can come only within the family circle. 
So it is with ideals of brotherhood, truth, and honor, even with the very 
concept of spirituality itself. Religion is like a skillful woodworker: he 
can make great and beautiful things only if he has the wood. The 
spiritual life can be built only if the materials for it already exist. The 
significance of the home for a truly spiritual religion is most important. 
So far as most people are concerned, only in the home can the inner 
attitudes develop which make a truly spiritual religion even possible. 

In the development of religion within the family, the truly impor- 
tant consideration is the spirit which dominates all relationships. If re- 
ligious teaching is to be effective, it must be inculcated into children as 
a normal result of the processes of living. In the final analysis the prob- 
lem is not the teaching of religion in the family; it is rather to make the 
family religious. 

The religious family derives its meaning and significance from pur- 
poses beyond itself. Many young people think of marriage in terms of 
their own personal satisfactions. When they think of an ideal situa- 
tion they see a lovely house in the suburbs surrounded by shrubs; they 
think of a good social status, a suitable car, and a salary big enough to 


keep all these going without pinching. "We'll build a sweet little nest, 
somewhere in the West, and let the rest of the world go by," is a popu- 
lar sentiment, but it is not religious. The truly religious person thinks 
of marriage rather in terms of establishing a cooperative unit of human 
relationships for the purpose of fulfilling religious objectives. This 
means, to begin with, that the family will be so conducted as best to 
satisfy the personality needs of its members. Husband and wife will 
give each other, and their children, that security of relationship which 
is a normal need of all. 

The religious family will not, and cannot, remain isolated or com- 
plete within itself. Of necessity it will reach out into the community in 
wholesome and constructive activities. Religious parents will be active 
not only in personal social contacts, but in efforts to promote the well- 
being of the community. Children will take it for granted that their 
parents will participate in worth-while enterprises. One of the best de- 
scriptions of such religious family activities is to be found in the follow- 
ing testimony of Pearl Buck: 

... I know my mother loved her children with all her heart, but certainly 
she never loved us with all her time. But we shared everything with her. 
She took us to her religious meetings and we went with her when she dis- 
pensed food and money to the poor and we helped her with her clinics and 
her housekeeping equally. We were pressed into every sort of service not 
in her case for any obvious training of us, but simply because she had to 
have help. She was deeply involved in life and she involved us with her. 
We were early familiar with the sight of hunger and death and we knew be- 
cause we had heard them the life problems of our surroundings. The result 
was that without knowing it I grew up hating sorrow and hardship but not 
afraid of either. I learned so early how to look on death that I cannot re- 
member horror at a dead face. By the time I was grown a lot of the clutter 
of childhood was out of the way and without personal pain or even knowl- 
edge that I was learning I had learned what life is. 

. . . The realities of life are not sad or dreary. Life is good to the very 
last drop, and evil and sorrow and grief are part of the whole. For the per- 
son whose home had been a part of the world the balance is never after- 
wards wrong. He will never be hopeless or despairing because he knows 
from the moment that he knows anything that there is evil and sorrow as 
there is also good and happiness, and he is not frightened as he would be if 
for all his childhood years he had been taught that real life was happiness 
and plenty and then found out that it is not. The anxiety with which so 
many of us face life and live life comes from the longing to get back into 


what we were taught as children, that happiness is the normal, the real at- 
mosphere that plenty and safety and security are to be expected. The 
truth is that nothing in life can be expected the joy of living is to take 
what comes and fight against it or accept it but live, and not try all the 
time to escape living and get away into some romantic refuge where every- 
thing ends happily. 8 

Community activities, if overdone, may indicate a basic dissatisfac- 
tion with the home and a desire to escape from its responsibilities. On 
the other hand, unless both parents get out to some extent (and this 
means the wife as well as the husband) they will not have much to con- 
tribute to the more intimate personal relationships of the family. Reli- 
gious parents try to keep a sound balance between chasing around so 
much that family relationships are neglected, and sticking around so 
closely that they become dull and uninteresting, and constantly in the 
way. This balance is a natural consequence of recognizing that the 
meaning and significance of the family lies in values which exist outside 
and beyond itself. 

The family, like the individual, finds its life in losing it in the large 
world. Just as the church steeple stands as a symbol of religion in the 
community, so the religious family stands out as a center of strength 
in every neighborhood. The family that is genuinely stable and secure 
within itself does more than spiritually nourish its own members. It 
finds itself called upon to share these strengths with neighbors and 
friends. Good families are the living cells of society: its sustaining 
pillars and its strength. 

Selected Readings 

ANDERSON, WILLIAM K., Making the Gospel Effective (Nashville: The Meth- 
odist Church, 1945), Chap. VII. 

BECKER, HOWARD, AND HILL, REUBEN (EDS.), Family, Marriage, and Parent- 
hood (Boston: Heath, 1948), Chap. 20. 

BOSSARD, JAMES H. s., AND BOLL, ELEANOR, Ritual in Family Living (Phila- 
delphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1950). 

BRO, MARGUERITE H., When Children Ask (Chicago: Willett, Clark, 1940). 

CHAPLIN, DORA p., Children and Religion (New York: Scribner, 1948). 

DUVALL, SYLVANUS M., Men, Women, and Morals (New York: Association 
Press, 1952), chaps. 14, 16. 

8 Pearl S. Buck, "At Home in the World," Marriage and Family Living, Febru- 
ary, 1942. 


FALLAW, WESNER, The Modern Parent and the Teaching Church (New 

York: Macmillan, 1946). 
GROVES, ERNEST R., Christianity and the Family (New York: Macmillan, 

WIEMAN, REGINA WESTCOTT, The Family Lives Its Religion (New York: 
Harper, 1941). 





Marriage Isn't What It Used to Be 


Why was grandfather boss in the good old days? 

Should a man be the head of the house now? 

Is woman's place in the home? 

Are modern children given too much freedom? 


pean, each brought a pattern of family life to the shores of North 
America, but the struggle to survive in the new land necessitated rapid 
changes in their traditional theories of who did what in the home. The 
sharp changes in social and political conditions which occurred as Amer- 
ica grew up from a frontier agricultural nation into an urban industrial- 
ized country also forced changes in the institution of the family to meet 
new demands. The social climate, the very atmosphere around us to- 
day, differs sharply from the setting of family life in bygone days. 

The Changing Family 

Yes, the family has changed. All of us, no matter how young we are, 
know this from what we read, from our own memories, from what older 
people say. And sometimes we worry about these changes because 
we've heard so often: Modern families are breaking down Fathers and 
mothers do not stay home as much anymore Children are spoiled 
Young people are running wild The good old days are gone City life 
is the trouble Working wives are the trouble Too small families are 
the trouble. How much of this is true? What are the facts? 

Family life has changed because most of the conditions of life have 


(New England Puritan Southern English) 

Community Life Compact village settlements and outlying isolated farms; no 

and Values large estates 

Large estates with slaves, later with laborers and tenants; small 
crossroads hamlets 

Manual work and skill dignified, combined with brain work 

Manual work regarded more or less servile, hence less manual skill 

No great class stratification 

Wealthy aristocracy, with leisure and cultured manners; poor 
whites; slaves 

Emphasis on thrift 
Less emphasis on thrift 

Strict Sabbath 

Marital and Sexual Marriage by civil magistrate only, at first; later modified, but 
Relations marriage regarded as secular 

Marriage ceremony by Church of England clergy only 

Divorce rare but permissible 

Divorce practically nonexistent 

Strong social pressure to marry; bachelors taxed and penalized; 
fairly balanced sex ratio 

High sex ratio at first, with women later imported for marriage 

Widows and spinsters often fell under witchcraft persecutions 

Girls often married at 12; considerable illegitimacy through race 

Severe public punishment and church confession for premarital 

and extramarital intercourse, yet many violations 
Double-standard sex mores 

No recognized class of prostitutes 
Bundling in courtship 



No intermarriage with Indians 

Some intermarriage with Indians; none with Negroes although sex 
relations common 

Primogeniture abolished at outset 

Social Roles and Women devoting time to homemaking and farm chores, but also 
Interrelations of following other occupations such as trade and teaching at 

the Sexes early date 

Women's work dependent upon social class, upper class doing less 
homemaking and few chores, lower class more menial labor 
than in North 

Chivalrous, playful attitude of men toward women in upper class 

Discipline Strict discipline and Spartan treatment of children, early incul- 

of Children cation of industrious habits and fear of hell; theoretical death 

penalty for rebellious sons over 16 in Connecticut 

Compulsory education of some degree by 1649 

Universal education late in developing 

* Adapted with permission from Joseph K. Folsom, The Family and Democratic 
Society (New York: Wiley, 1943), p. 117. 

CHECK YOURSELF Before each of the following family activities indicate by an i if 

there has been an increase in this family activity since pioneer 

family days, by a d if this activity has decreased within the 

1 Churning butter 

2 Attending PTA meetings 

3 Weaving cloth 

4 Family vacations 

5 Raising poultry 

6 Making garments 

7 Cobbling shoes 

8 Listening to music 

9 Curing meat 
10 Drying fruits 

11 Baking bread 

12 Preserving 

13 Manufacture of ice 

14 Soap making 

15 Visiting museums 

16 Enjoying sports 

17 Knitting stockings 

18 Grinding meal 

19 Listening to children 

20 Caring for the sick 

* KEY p QZ '! 61 'P 81 'P Zl '! 91 '! SI 'P frl 

'! El 'P II 'P II 'P 01 'P 6 '! 8 'P L 'P 9 'P ff '! V 'P C '! Z 'P 


changed in the past fifty years. The home didn't change first. It 
changed as a result of these other forces to which each family had to 
adapt. Undoubtedly we face still further changes in the next twenty- 
five years. Need we be alarmed? 

Change isn't anything to fear. It's a condition of human life. To 
exchange one thing for another, to enter upon a new phase of living, is 
a challenge to our ingenuity, to our ability to see things as they are. 

Before we make up our minds about present-day family life in gen- 
eral or the kind of family life we want in particular, let's look at some of 
the facts. The establishing of families in America was accomplished by 
progressive people from other countries who did noHike the old ways 
and who came here to break away from old traditions. These early 
pioneers founded small communities, where they lived for the survival 
of all by the usefulness of each. People were esteemed for their eco- 
nomic contributions to the family rather than for their beauty or their 
family background. Great-grandmother was an asset to her family. She 
cooked the food, kept the house, cared for aged parents, nursed the sick, 
made the clothing and household linens from materials grown on the 
land, besides producing a large family. Great-grandfather welcomed 
children as helpers. Indeed, he needed a large family to keep the wolf 
from the door, to clear the land, plant and gather the crops, grind the 
grain, and build shelters. He was boss of the family as well as the fore- 
man of the big job of getting the family settled. 

These pioneer families measured success and wealth in terms of 
numbers, whether they were numbers of acres of land, of horses, of cows, 
of pigs, or the number of children in the family. In 1675 the average 
size of the New England household was nine. The motivation to 
marry centered in the economic advantages first; the satisfactions of love 
came later, if there was time! Family relations were not unusually 
warm, since affection of the child for parents was colored with the dull 
gray of an attitude of duty. In the table on page 406 the details of 
family life among the colonials throw into relief the attitudes and 
values of these early American families. 

Pioneers of New Horizons 

These pioneer families produced children who, as they struggled to sur- 
vive, dreamed dreams which made them even greater pioneers than 


their fathers. This next generation sought freedom from the arduous 
labors of their fathers; they invented machines which would do the 
work in less time, with less energy. But these changes brought frustra- 
tion to the older people because their sons and daughters were taken 
away from home into factories and cities. The young people were more 
receptive to these creative changes and saw in them the solution of the 
human needs of their generation. They also had visions of the hard- 
ships which their children could be saved if better ways of doing things 
were only encouraged. And as the dreams of each succeeding genera- 
tion became realistic, many changes occurred which affected family life, 
necessitating adjustments for the individual and for the family as a 
group. Indeed, the ability to accept scientific, social, and political 
changes has become one criterion for measuring family stability in 
latter-day American life. 1 

Midcentury American Families 2 

Family life certainly isn't what it used to be. Sweeping changes have 
taken place during the twentieth century, and back of them is the rapid 
growth of our industrial civilization. Machines have affected, directly 
and indirectly, every phase of our lives, including our most basic in- 
stitution the family. 

Families Live in Cities. One of the most direct effects of our machine 
economy on the family has been its influence in determining where 
the family shall live. We see, in the accompanying chart, that in 1890 
64 per cent of all households in the United States lived on farms. By 
1948, only 17 per cent were still on farms. The picture is clear: more 
and more "machine" jobs have lured increasing numbers of families to 
cities; the growth of industry and cities has gone hand in hand. 

Families Buy The/r Goods. At the turn of the century most of the 
goods and services needed by the family were produced in the home. 
At midcentury, most families had become units of consumption, buying 
almost all that was needed. What had formerly been homemade now 
was produced on assembly lines as "big business" production increased 

1 Robert C. Angell, The Family Encounters the Depression (New York: Scrib- 
ner, 1936), pp. 44-45, 263, and Reuben Hill, Families under Stress (New York: 
Harper, 1949). 

2 See Chart "Twentieth Century Changes in American Family Life," pp. 










From An Economic Challenge to American Women by Florence M. Schneider 


five-fold between 1900 and 1950. Machines have provided families 
with literally hundreds of time- and labor-saving devices, from electric 
toasters, grinders, and mixers to electric stoves, washing machines, re- 
frigerators, air conditioners, and television. And in addition to all the 
modern home conveniences, a great deal of work formerly done at home 
is now done outside in bakeries, dairies, packing houses, canneries, 
laundries, etc. 

Families Are Small. The average American family at midcentury con- 
sisted of 3.6 persons. Families are smaller than they used to be, not 
only in the smaller number of children but also in that fewer extended 
family members (Grandma, Aunt Celia, Uncle Tim) now make their 
homes with them. Now that homes are not as busy making things, 
these "extra" adults are not as welcome with their married relatives. 

Families are smaller for two reasons, i. Children and other rela- 
tives were an asset in the days when so many things had to be done in 
the home; they were especially valuable to farm families. Today they 
are usually a financial liability. 2. City life is not conducive to large 
families. Couples with several children have difficulty renting a dwell- 
ing large enough and cheap enough; they often must rent an old house 


41 1 



(National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs) 


or one in an undesirable neighborhood, since many landlords object to 

Families Have High Standard of Living. The figures in the table on 
page 416 show vividly that family members at midcentury were better 
educated, enjoyed more leisure, ate better food, traveled farther and 
faster, spent more for luxuries and comforts, and had an income per 
family member that was twice that at the turn of the century. 

More Marry at Younger Ages. With the higher standard of living has 
come the ability of young people to marry at younger ages, and a far 
higher percentage of the population marry than was possible at the be- 
ginning of the twentieth century. 

Families Less Stable. Our machine civilization has brought about, in- 
directly, more instability in homes. City life has made divorce more 
feasible because of: i. greater mobility of the family, relieving people 
from community criticism and taboos; 2. greater financial independence 
of women (today a woman with few or no children and all sorts of job 
possibilities does not have to continue living with a husband she does 
not love just for financial support); 3. wider contacts at younger ages, 
increasing possibilities of mate selection and of remarriage. 


Thus far the discussion has been primarily on the outward changes 
in family life, those which lend themselves to statistics. Let us now 
turn to the internal changes as revealed in activities and attitudes, a 
story which cannot be told in figures but which is nonetheless vital. 

Internal Changes. More democratic family practices are accepted to- 
day than fifty years ago. Then the family was still patriarchal; the hus- 
band and father was the dictator whose authority was final, whose 
judgment was infallible. Children were taught to regard their parents 
with reverence and never to talk back; punishment was severe, usually 
physical. More of today's parents try to be companions of their chil- 
dren, as human beings who make mistakes and have^to "beg pardon" 
occasionally. Parents and children are bridging the old chasm between 
the child world and adult world by being pals, playing and working to- 
gether, trying to understand each other. 

The older Puritanical sex attitudes have given way to a more whole- 
some acceptance of the sex side of life and to more realistic efforts in 
sex education. The rigid rules, regulations and "cover up" of the nine- 
teenth century are rapidly disappearing as many of today's families at- 
tempt to exchange blind conformity for exploration of what will be 
wise and best. 

Mother's place in this new family has changed greatly. The modern 
mother with few and widely spaced children, with her many mechanical 
devices, can spend much less time and energy at housekeeping and 
much more time at homemaking. She has time to study diets, budget- 
ing, and child training. She can spend more time with the children, 
helping them develop hobbies and cultural interests. And, if she is 
wise, she also keeps up her own intellectual and social interests. Thus 
her service to her family is less physical, more mental and spiritual. 

The family today has more time, resources, and facilities than ever 
before for real unity through recreation, fun, and cultural activities. 
The family isn't what it used to be, but it has innumerable opportuni- 
ties for becoming much better than it ever has been. 

The Rising Status of Women 

A generation ago a portrait of an old lady, seated with her hands folded, 
was painted by Whistler. This became the ideal picture of mother. A 
portrait of mother in serviceable slacks might be more appropriate to- 
day. These extremes of complacency and action in women depict the 


startling social and economic changes which 
families have absorbed in the last fifty years. 

Before the foot that rocked the cradle 
worked a pedal on a machine, many changes 
took place, including the discovery that babies 
slept better in a stationary bed that could not 
be rocked. Obviously a man can't get a girl 
just like father used to have. Girls don't grow 
up with the same ideas any more. But it's 
equally true that neither the vote nor greasy 
overalls have changed Mary's essential femi- 
ninity. Heads still turn and pulses beat for 
her; she still gets into ruffles when she can; 
she spends more time and money than ever 
before to make herself attractive, she still 
wants and plans and works for a home, a hus- 
band, and a family. 

The changed world which is responsible for 
the new Mary has also made changes in the 
techniques of getting and caring for and keep- 
ing a home, husband, and family. Mary is 
trying to adapt her nature to new conditions. 
What are they? Why does she want to wear 



MOST because of 
urgent family need 

SOME to raise 
standard of living 

FEW for a career 

From Public Affairs Pamphlet 
No. 49, Public Affairs Com- 
mittee. Drawn by Picto- 
graph Corporation 

Should Women Work? They always have. 
In the old days, when marriage was their only 
possible career, it afforded them plenty of 
work. When all food was prepared at home, 
cooking, baking, and preserving for a big family were almost a job in 
themselves, and added to this was a house to keep in order, a new baby 
every year or two, sewing, washing, ironing, and gardening. The only 
leisure problem a woman had then was how to get any leisure. The re- 
ward which she reaped for her labors was the knowledge that she was 
needed, essential to her family's existence and comfort, and her pride at 
managing so many jobs pretty well. 

Then conditions changed. The machine age arrived. Bakeries took 
over the baking of her bread, canneries the preserving of her food, fac- 

41 4 


tories the making of the family's clothes. The increase in commercial 
production, with opportunities for more jobs and higher wages, brought 
more and more families to the city. Children went to school more regu- 
larly and stayed in school years longer. People generally became more 
prosperous, bought more articles and services, performed less physical 

In the course of these changes the wife and mother lost many of her 
former jobs. She either sent the laundry out or used a washing ma- 
chine. Milk was delivered at her door daily; the grocery boy brought 
the food. She had fewer children. Formerly, with a multitude of daily 
chores to perform on the farm or in the home, children had been not 
only an act of God but an economic advantage. Now they became an 
expense. Shelter cost more, living conditions were more crowded, and 
neighbors objected to noise. In order to get good jobs when they grew 
up, children had to have more education. Going to high school and 
college became the accepted instead of the extraordinary thing to do. 
Money was required for lunches, carfare, books, for more clothes, for 
tuition for the children. So, many people tended to have fewer chil- 
dren, and to spend more on those they had. 

Where did all these changing conditions leave the housewife? The 
average woman had less to do in the home than ever before, but at the 
same time the economic pressure became greater. Father spent long 
hours at his work (though not as long as his father before him) in or- 
der to earn the constantly increasing amount of money needed. In 
contrast, except for the few years when the children were small, the city 


A _0_ A A A A A A -O O .0 A 


A A 




From Public Affaire Pamphlet No. 49. Drawn by Pictograph Corporation 


housewife's work in the home required considerably less time and en- 

In most cases, as statistics show, women work because of financial 
need, or to raise the living standard of the family. In other words, most 
women have not left their proper sphere, but their sphere has changed. 
Earning money has become a part of their service to their family, as 
performing more direct services once was. 

During the last fifty years the number of married women working 
outside the home has steadily increased. In 1890, less than one million 
married women and three million single women were at work. In 1910 
the figures were two million married women and five and a half million 
unmarried women; in 1930, three million married women and seven 
and a half million unmarried women. The increase since 1940 contin- 
ues very rapid. Young people marry at younger ages today, partly be- 
cause of the ability and the willingness of the woman to continue work- 
ing after marriage. 

There is another side to this story. Mothers who have left the home 
to work have been missed! Even smaller living quarters with all the 
conveniences require some work and time. Children always need the 
loving attention of their parents, and mothers are needed especially in 
infancy. A home with unmade beds, unwashed dishes, delicatessen 
meals, children left with hired help all day or actually neglected is a 
heavy price to pay for any economic advantage. 

Some of this upheaval is inevitable in periods of transition. It 
seems that changes in women's status and services have come so fast in 
our day that we have not had time to revamp our mores or customs. 
Our present culture exemplifies several conflicting ideas as to what 
women should be or do. The situation is admittedly confusing for 
everyone. However, there are many partial solutions hovering on the 
horizon; community kitchens, community nursery schools, shorter work- 
ing days, new household conveniences, and education for new roles are 
some of them. 

Studies indicate that women who have had some work experience be- 
fore marriage tend to make better marriage partners than those with 
none. 3 Other statistical and clinical studies tell us that women can 
work outside the home and carry on their functions as wives and moth- 

3 Ernest W. Burgess and Leonard S. Cottrell, Jr., Predicting Success and Failure 
in Marriage (New York; Prentice-Hall, 1930,), pp. 150-152. 


(At the Turn of the Century At Midcentury) 

Rural: 64% households on farms, 1890 

Urban: 17% households on farms, 1948 x 

Homes producing units: raise food, preserve, bake, cook, sew, cobble shoes, 

Families consumers: "big business" production increase five-fold, 1900- 

Large family: average 5 persons in 1890 

Small family: average 3.6 persons in 1948 * 

Few divorces: .54 divorced per 100 married persons, 1890 

More divorces: 2.82 divorced per 100 married persons, 1949 1 

Few women work outside home: i out of 22 married women work outside 

home in 1890 
More women work outside home: i out of 4 married women work outside 

home in 1949 x 

Fewer women marry: 51.8% women 20-24 years single in 1890 
More women marry: 30.8% women 20-24 vears sm gte m *949 * 

Fewer ever marry: 63.1% population ever married in 1890 

More ever marry: 78.6% population ever married in 1949 x 

Marry late: median age first marriage for men 26.1, for women 22 in 1890 

Marry early: median age first marriage for men 22.7, for women 20.3 in 
1949 i 

Education limited: modal man leaves school at 14; in 17 states no school 

attendance requirement at all, 1900 
Educated longer: modal man leaves school at 18; all states require school 

attendance at least up to 16, some to 18, 1950 8 

Education for domestic roles implicit in apprenticeship of child to adult in 

Education for marriage and family life becoming explicit in formal and in- 
formal programs in home, school, community * 

Family is provincial: limited to horse and some train travel; few telephones, 
few automobiles; no radio, TV, or airplanes 

Family becomes at home in the world: airplane, automobile travel common; 
radio, TV, news of world events hourly into homes 4 

Long hours: work week 59 hours in 1900 
More leisure: work week 40 hours in 1950 5 


Family income small: $520 per family member (1948 purchasing power 
dollars) in 1901 

Income per family member doubled: $1085 (1948 purchasing power dol- 
lars), 1948 5 

Few luxuries: 17% family income spent on things other than necessities, 

More luxuries: 41% family income spent on things other than necessities, 

1948 = 

Family diet heavy in grains and potatoes: 42% more in 1900 than 1949 
Families eat more protective foods: 273% more citrus fruits, 43% more 
vegetables, 30% more eggs, 29% more milk in 1949 than in 1900 6 

More babies die first year of life: 100 per 1000 live births, 1915 

Infant mortality rates reduced to one third: 32 per 1000 live births, 1948 7 

More mothers die in childbirth: 60 per 10,000 live births, 1915 

Childbearing five times safer: 12 per 10,000 live births, 1948 7 

Patriarchal, autocratic control 

Democratic, equalitarian controls gaining 4 

Children raised by rule and "chores" 

Child study, mental hygiene, psychology help parents guide personality 
growth 4 

Roles of men, women, and children tend to be fixed and rigid 

Flexible roles of men, women, and children are accepted and widely prac- 
ticed 4 

Families stay put: residence rarely changes, little separation of family 

Families on the move: many change residence; much travel as families and 
individuals * 

Puritanical attitudes on sex; double standard of morality; little sex educa- 

Acceptance of sex side of life general; trends toward single standard of mo- 
rality; many efforts toward sex education 4 

Definite standards of right and wrong with strong social buttressing 

Tolerant acceptance of deviations general, fewer black and white judgments 
by fewer "Mrs. Grundies" 4 

1 Bureau of Census. 

2 Council of Economic Advisors, Bureau of Census. 
8 Bureau of Labor Standards. 

4 Observation. 

5 Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

6 Bureau of Human Nutrition; Bureau of Agriculture Economics. 
T National Office of Vital Statistics. 


ers as well, with no serious damage to their husbands' happiness, their 
children's welfare, or their own adjustment. 4 As we said in Chapter 
Eleven, "Money Matters in Marriage," there are many different kinds 
of women, some of whom are so constituted and trained that finding 
creative outlets is their only assurance of making a good adjustment to 
their environment. Even though they are married, they fail to find 
the challenge they need within the confines of the modern home. After 
their children have grown up, many women find that the stimulus of 
work to be done outside the home makes them dissatisfied with the en- 
forced leisure of the typical housewife. These women see themselves 
as citizens in a growing society, as people with a contribution to make, 
as personalities with a need to feel needed and to be living a worth-while 
life. Such fulfillment adds much to the vitality and richness of a mar- 
riage. But in spite of all the changes with which the modern woman 
finds herself confronted, there are still many services which she alone 
can provide her family. These services are the core of women's work 
and underlie family life today: affection giving, day-by-day companion- 
ship, guidance of children, and building personalities of family mem- 

As we indicated in detail in our opening chapter, the processes of 
personality development are extremely complex, and exceedingly im- 
portant both for individual happiness and for the good of the social 
whole. The family is the most important single influence in personality 
development. Until recently the meeting of the personality needs of 
the growing persons in the family has been incidental to the housekeep- 
ing and production functions of family life. Now with the time-con- 
suming tasks taken care of outside the home, men and women alike 
will have time to focus their attention upon the building of persons 
who will emerge as the real products of family life. It is against this 
background of shifting functions of the family from a unit for pro- 
duction of things to a center for production of persons that we 
should see, in our times, the changing role of women, of children, and 
of men. 

* Mary S. Fisher, Conflicts Which Face Women Today (unpublished study); 
see also John Levy and Ruth Munroe, The Happy Family (New York: Knopf, 
1938), p. 268, and Harvey Locke, Predicting Adjustment in Marriage (New York: 
Holt, 1951), pp. 288-297. 


The Child as a Personality 

Today, Junior, obviously just a baby, lying in his crib, pink-toed and 
kicking, represents something more to his parents than Juniors formerly 
represented. They see him not as a replica of themselves, or a mere 
helpless, lovable bundle, but as an individual-in-the-making, with the 
making largely up to them. 

This new concept represents a tremendous change in our outlook 
on child rearing. In the past, most mothers and fathers felt that they 
had done everything possible if they provided shelter, food, clothes, and 
admonitions with regard to manners and morals. Frequent childhood 
illnesses and tragically frequent infant deaths were simply to be ac- 
cepted, while any deviations in behavior from what was regarded as de- 
sirable were to be spanked out. Today the job of parenthood is more 
cheerful, but more complicated. 

With the realization that the child is an individual came the corol- 
lary that he should be guided to develop his own powers and aptitudes 
rather than coerced into simulating those of his parents. As obstetri- 
cians and pediatricians provided modern mothers and fathers with 
healthier babies than ever before, parents acquired a great respect for 
the newer, more scientific methods of child care. 

Yesterday's child lived under the rule of absolute authority, with the 
switch not infrequently used to enforce his obedience or quiet his ques- 
tionings. Today's child lives in a home that is becoming a democracy, 
where he too is considered an important individual, with rights as well 
as duties. Fathers and mothers no longer want their children to be 
afraid of them. They value the confidence and frankness of their 
growing sons and daughters as a more than adequate substitute for the 
more superficial respect their grandparents received. They make re- 
quests instead of giving orders; they try to make discipline meet the 
needs of the child, and they go to some trouble to find out what causes 
a misdeed without immediately attributing it to the natural perversity 
of children. 

With all due respect to devotees of the new psychology, there are 
nevertheless individual cases in which the results are anything but happy. 
Children have become absolute monarchs in some homes, wielding the 
authority of a spoiled ego over worried and too eager-to-please parents. 
Such literal-minded parents have slipped off the beam of moderation. 


They have gone too far in the direction of license for their children; 
they have forgotten or ignored the fact that we must all accept duties, 
boring routines, and some authority as a part of our adult lives. But 
such individual family failures do not detract from the many beneficial 
results which have come from conceiving of the child as a personality. 
As Junior has become more important in the family, he has also be- 
come more expensive to rear. In addition to the little garments mother 
made and the help of a skillful neighbor woman we must now use a 
long line of articles and services, from hospital and pediatrician to 
cribs, carriages, and play pens, ready-made layettes, special food, bathing 
and sterilizing equipment even diaper services. Parents get their re- 
ward for this outlay as Junior gains more than the requisite number of 
inches and ounces, and avoids croup, colic, diphtheria, and smallpox, 
the former "inevitable" infant and child ailments. Undoubtedly in- 
fancy isn't as painful an experience to the baby as it used to be; but the 

CHECK YOURSELF The following is a list of statements concerning the reasons for the 

interest of parents becoming more focused on their growing chil- 
dren as personalities than was true in the "children should be seen and not heard" era. 
Some of these statements express more basic causes than do others. Some are irrelevant. Go 
through the listing, indicating by a double plus sign those which you feel are especially 
significant, by a single plus sign those which you feel must be related. Leave blank those 
which are irrelevant to the question of why modern parents focus more attention upon their 
growing children. 

1 There is no longer so much household drudgery. 

2 There are fewer children in the modern family. 

3 The infant mortality rate is lower now. 

4 Books, magazines, and radio programs deal more with child guidance. 

5 Child psychologists are more active in parent education programs. 

6 Fathers spend less time at home with their children. 

7 Mothers have become better educated and more aware of psychological 

forces and influences than previously. 
8 There are few other activities left within the home in which parents can 

find creative interest. 

9 The manufacture of toys has greatly increased. 

10 Maids, nurses, and other household employees are less a part of the family. 

1 1 Americans realize that it takes strong people to build a strong society. 

12 Knowledge of nutrition has put more emphasis on early child feeding. 

* KEY -f zi -f- u 'J9JJI 01 'I 9JJ I 6 + -f 8 + L 

4-9 4- s -f * 'I 9JJ I e -f 4- i + + i 


fact remains that each individual child costs more to produce and rear. 
Responsible parents whose incomes are limited have to limit the size of 
their families too. 

By throwing out the expensive frills we should be able to retain all 
the essentials of scientific care and still have more children. In many 
cases a new brother or sister would do more for Junior than a private 
school or an insurance policy planned for his college education. This 
emphasis on quality rather than quantity is a part of a larger social 
trend. Dr. Brock Chisholm, head of the World Health Organization, 
put it vividly when he said, "Our children must be better than we are, 
for we are the kind of folks who go to war every few years/' Our best 
hope for peace, for the good life men have always envisaged, lies in the 
everyday lives of our families where men are made. "The loss of extrin- 
sic functions, such as economic production, education, religious train- 
ing ... enables the family to specialize in the functions of giving and 
receiving affection, bearing and rearing children, and personality de- 
velopment/' 5 

Life for Father 

With mother admittedly an individual and often a wage earner, and 
the child acquiring new dignity and rights in the home, what becomes 
of father? 

Traditionally he was the family's sole source of support and the 
family boss. If the children objected to his despotism they were person- 
ally escorted to the woodshed; if mother objected well, she just didn't! 
It was beneath father's dignity ever to help in the house except in dire 
emergency; not only business but the whole world outside the home 
was assumed to be his sphere alone, from which Olympian height he 
occasionally let drop jewels of wisdom. 

This stereotyped description of father, a paragon of male pride, self- 
sufficiency, and petulance, never existed in the flesh. He is but a com- 
posite picture of the yearnings of males frustrated by actual wives, chil- 
dren, businesses, and bosses. He is a stereotype; but since we human 
beings tend to base our wishes and patterns of conduct on stereotypes 
instead of facts, his influence is still felt by fathers and mothers in their 
efforts to adjust to a streamlined family life. 

5 Charles S. Johnson, "New Forces in Family Living: Social Reorientation," 
Journal of Social Casework (February, 1949), p. 50. 


All the men and women and children composing those homes of fifty 
or sixty years ago were individuals, and each reacted differently to au- 
thority. Some men who were lordly in public had their minds changed 
for them privately by mother at home. Having to ask for every cent of 
cash they needed made some women dependent, some secretly resent- 
ful; others became experts at chiseling on the grocery or dressmaker's 
bill. Where the stereotyped roles were played, it is probably safe to 
say that there was a minimum of honesty, frankness, and understanding. 

Father is less of a boss, even theoretically, today. He is more than 
an earner and supplier of the good things of life. He is, ideally, a hus- 
band, companion, and partner to his wife; a friend, guide, protector, 
and playmate to his children. The home is becoming a democracy with 
rights of free speech for every member; allowances and joint checking 
accounts have become commonplace. In this less materialistic family 
set-up there is less fear, more freedom to be oneself, increased emphasis 
on the enduring values of home life, on loving rearing of children, on 
the deep companionship of shared experiences. What has father gained 
in this new home? 

For one thing, today's father has won the confidence of his children, 
their joyous acceptance of him as a person. For another, he has dis- 
covered the ability to relax and act foolish when he feels like it without 
sacrificing his family's respect for him, because that respect is no longer 
founded on his maintenance of unbroken dignity (impossible in a four- 
room flat, anyway). For another, he now enjoys increased understand- 
ing and intelligent cooperation from his wife, to whom his business and 
outside interests no longer need be a mystery or a bore. Finally, he has 
found greater security in weathering the vicissitudes with his wife and 
family now that he is accepted as a partner in their joint enterprise, a 

Now that father is becoming a person, just as mother is, just as Junior 
is, isn't there a boss, or at least a head of the family? Of course there is. 
In pointing out any social change, the hardest factor to emphasize is the 
extent of the transformation. Conditions never change absolutely, or 
wholly, and individual families differ widely in the degree to which they 
reflect any particular social change. 

That men are still in the ascendancy in many homes is understand- 
able. The average husband still tends to be older than his wife, and to 
have more life experience. Furthermore, since many men and women 


grow up in homes where patterns of male dominance prevail, they may 
tend to expect and to assume it as "right" in their own marriages. As 
more and more wives come to marriage with an education equivalent to 
that of their husbands, and ready to share economic responsibilities, 
more cooperative living is inevitable. 

Man's Attitude toward Women's Work. Father is not hurt today if 
mother takes a job outside the home; his dignity is not damaged by occa- 
sionally pinning on a diaper, or cooking a meal. He may be a university 
professor or a corporation lawyer, but he has acquired a sense of humor 
and a sense of proportion. As long as he knows that his wife loves him, 
trusts him, and is trustable, as long as his children run to greet him with 
shining faces and come to him confidingly with scraped knees and hurt 
feelings to fix, he is a success at home and has lost no prestige. 6 The 
following analysis constitutes one of the best statements in print of the 
problems of the modern family man: 

One often hears that "a man cannot keep his self-respect and allow his 
wife to work." This is true if, because she works, he takes no responsibility 
for the family support. But his attitude may indicate that he has not recog- 
nized that women have always contributed to the support of the family; he 
may be unwilling to admit that work away from home may not be so ardu- 
ous or monotonous as is work within the home. Or it may only mean that 
he has not yet given thought to the new adjustments which must be made 
by his generation in contrast with the accepted role of his mother. 

Again, it is sometimes held by men that a woman cannot respect a man 
who cannot support his family. But too often in the past the man's appar- 
ent magnanimity in insisting upon supporting his wife and family has been 
accompanied by subjection and domination. Many of the chivalrous cliches 
about women are sentimental coverings for lack of intellectual honesty and 
of emotional integrity. Woman's "priceless position" in a price society is 
not always an enviable situation. Likewise those things done for "love" have 
often become the basis of demands and exactions disastrous to the relation- 
ship between husband and wife. Often a boy makes the statement that he 
will not marry a girl until he can support her. This ought at least to be a 
mutual decision; for if he does not marry her, she may have to work anyway 
and should have some part in deciding whether she would rather work when 
married to him or as an unmarried woman. 

Certain readjustments in family life are necessary if the home under mod- 
ern conditions is to be successful. If both husband and wife work outside 
the home, it would seem to follow that both would share in the work of the 
home. Too often in any arrangement where the wife worked out of the home 
6 Do not miss O. Spurgeon English and Constance Foster, Fathers Are Parents, 
Too (New York: Putnam, 1951). 


it has been assumed that she carried in addition the work inside it. Many 
a woman has not been able to stand the physical and emotional demands of 
the two jobs. In any arrangement it will probably be necessary for her to 
carry a major part of the responsibility for the management of the home. 
But if she as well as her husband works outside the home, there should be 
a sharing of the work inside or else provision in the family budget to cover 
part of the homework. 

This sharing of home responsibilities by husband and wife has been dif- 
ficult to secure because of the extent to which the roles of men and women 
have been fixed as if there were an impassable gulf between them, and as if 
no man without loss of self-respect could do what has been designated as 
woman's work. But aptitude for most of the work of the home would seem 
to be rather a matter of individual than of sex difference. ~ There is no real 
reason to assume that cooking is inherently woman's work when all of the 
highest paid chefs are men, or that sewing can be done only by women 
when the highest paid designers and tailors are men. Neither does there 
seem to be a valid reason for assuming that washing and ironing, scrubbing 
and sweeping are better fitted to women's physical capacities than to men's. 
Boys in many progressive schools, where the old assumptions are not made, 
prefer to take cooking rather than "shop" while many of the girls choose the 
shop. Many a man might stay at home more willingly if he ate his own in- 
stead of his wife's cooking. Many a home would be more tastily furnished 
if the man had chosen the furniture and the color scheme for the decoration. 
Many children would be more becomingly dressed if their fathers chose their 
clothes. An eye for line and color is an individual rather than a sex differ- 
ence. In the new partnership between men and women, there must be joint 
planning and joint responsibility for the things in the home that are the out- 
ward and visible signs of inner unity. 7 

At Home in a Larger World 

Once the family's horizons were limited to the clearing around the 
cabin with the forest beyond, or to the village with its few familiar 
streets. Now its world is literally the entire globe! Parents are finding 
that the home can no longer be an independent unit. Families today 
are tied up irrevocably with the world around them. The election of a 
president or of a school board member may be of more importance in 
the life of the family in the years to come than all the domestic duties 
and job routines carried out that year. An incident in a tiny town in 
the Balkans several decades ago started a war from which we have not 
yet completely recovered. Militarism brewing through the years in 
Japan was climaxed in the attack on Pearl Harbor, which until then 
7 "The Home in Transition," Social Action, October 15, 1937, pp. 17-19- 


was unheard of by many of us. Economic depressions delay marriages, 
put father out of work, break off sister's college education, and keep the 
whole family from enjoying a new roof. Study has indicated that such 
periodic disasters as wars, depressions, and political intrigue are not the 
result of inevitable forces of evil, but rather the misfortunes that occur 
when the common people are not intelligent enough and interested 
enough to utilize the resources at hand to deal with everyday problems 
effectively. Obviously the difficulty of electing a leader or voting on a 
bill in these complex times is much greater than in the old days of the 
New England town meeting when everyone knew everyone else, and 
the issues were clear-cut and familiar. But the new avenues of commu- 
nication today, the radio, the daily paper, the study groups and trained 
interpreters, make feasible the task of modern citizenship. 

Mother has a role on this world citizenship stage. Men have 
stopped laughing at women for not bringing the millennium when 
they were given the vote; we know that women are only people, with 
wisdom limited to their experience. We should hardly have expected 
the world to be remade overnight when women went out to vote if we 
hadn't been so eager to poke fun at the dear, funny, valiant suffragettes. 
Men in America have been at the game of community and world affairs 
for a longer period of time. While women were still tied to their spin- 
ning wheels, men were stumping the country for their favorite candi- 
dates and rushing off to the state legislatures to back a new bill. The 
old cracker barrel at the crossroads store saw some straight shooting of 
tobacco juice and some not too crooked shooting off of new ideas of 
democracy as a way of life. 

Now that women have the educational background, the leisure to 
study, and sufficient interest to join the League of Women Voters and 
become active in the Public Affairs Committee of the YWCA, as well 
as in councils for social action in the churches and the auxiliaries of 
political parties, they too can find their way around in the maze of cur- 
rent socio-economic problems. 

What we need right now is a merging of these two bodies of experi- 
ence. Men and women work together on the problems facing the 
world today. They need each other to assure real progress. Man's new 
role will be to encourage and back his wife as she delves into the facts 
of social life, and learn with her how to perfect the complex machinery 
that runs our social organizations. 


Families are living cells of our emerging democracy. Father may, by 
his attitude and interest, do a great deal to guide the children into ex- 
periences which will round out their understandings. His attitude to- 
ward his wife's interests, his indignation over a miscarriage of justice, 
his alignment with causes and movements, do more to educate the chil- 
dren in the family than all the civics courses they will get this side of 
college. Parents who participate in civic activities and projects set the 
stage for children as they play out the roles for themselves. Introducing 
members of the family into their responsibilities in their world is all 
part of father's role in the family, a part not as well defined as the one 
in which he wielded a big stick and hung onto the purse strings, but no 
less challenging in its implications for the future. 

"This is a wonderful time to be a parent. Our children are growing 
up in the greatest era we have ever known, though a greater one may 
be just around the corner. There are some people in every generation 
who keep looking backward because the future is always full of fear. 
But there are other people who keep looking ahead. They see new 
things coming constantly into the world. They take hold of those 
things; they turn them to the good of their time and their generation." 8 

There's No Place Like Home 

Home as great-grandmother knew it no longer exists. It never can re- 
turn. We move forward into a new type of family life that none of us, 
men, women, or children, have ever experienced before. Modern so- 
ciety is adjusting to changes and will undoubtedly face many more 
which will affect family life. Down through the ages the family has 
been buffeted about by social change, but it has been well ballasted. It 
has survived countless wars and catastrophes. It has made many adjust- 
ments, but through it all the central core of family life has remained. 

What the family will be like tomorrow is another question which 
we will take up in the very last chapter. What your family and mine is 
like today is the result of generations of adapting human relations to 
changing conditions. We cannot cut ourselves off from our roots. 
They provide stability in a changing world. But we have seen appear 
in our day a body of knowledge about family life and personality de- 
velopment, and we have seen its validity proved in real life situations. 

8 John Harvey Furbay, "The One World Is Here/' National Parent-Teacher 
(October, 1950), p. 18. 


Adding this knowledge to that already learned from family life in other 
times gives us the perspective to draft our own design for a more work- 
able family for tomorrow. 

Marriage isn't what it used to be, but to the student of family life it 
shows promise of being much better. 

Selected Readings 

BUCK, PEARL, "At Home in the World," Marriage and Family Living (Feb- 
ruary, 1942), pp. 1-4. 

CLOSE, KATHRYN, "Young Families in 1950," The Survey (January, 1950). 

COMPTON, ARTHUR, "Effect of the New Scientific Age on Family Life," Jour- 
nal of Home Economics (September, 1947), pp. 387-390. 

(New York: Putnam, 1951). 

FRANK, LAWRENCE K., "Yes, Families Are Changing," The Survey (Decem- 
ber, 1949). 

FURBAY, JOHN HARVEY, "The One World Is Here," National Parent-Teacher 
(October, 1950), pp. 18-20. 

JOHNSON, CHARLES s., "New Forces in Family Living: Social Reorientation," 
Journal of Social Casework (February, 1949), pp. 47-50. 

LANGMUIR, MARY FISHER, "Wife Trouble? Get Her a Job!" American Maga- 
zine (February, 1950), pp. 36-37, 90-93. 

MEAD, MARGARET, Male and Female: A Study of the Sexes in a Changing 
World (New York: Morrow, 1949). 

, "What is Happening to the American Family?" Journal of Social Case- 
Work (November, 1947), pp. 323330. 

Technical References 

BERNARD, JESSIE, American Family Behavior (New York: Harper, 1942), 

chaps. 1-9. 

BURGESS, ERNEST, AND LOCKE, HARVEY, The Family: from Institution to Com- 
panionship (New York: American Book, 1945), Chap. 16. 
FOLSOM, JOSEPH, The Family and Democratic Society (New York: Wiley, 

1943), chaps. 3-7. 
LEE, ALFRED, AND LEE, ELIZABETH, Social Problems in America: A Source 

Book (New York: Holt, 1949), Chap. 3. 
LOCKE, HARVEY, AND MACKEPRANG, MURIEL, "Marital Adjustment and the 

Employed Wife," American Journal of Sociology (May, 1949), pp. 536- 

RIESMAN, DAVID, The Lonely Crowd: A Study of the Changing American 

Character (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1950). 
TRUXAL, ANDREW, AND MERRILL, FRANCIS, The Family in American Culture 
(New York: Prentice-Hall, 1947). 


Coming Home to What? 


What happens to families in wartime? 

Do war marriages work out all right? 

What about all these war babies? 

What place does the family have in America's future? 

Does education for family life make sense? 


portation and communication have made possible the linking of na- 
tions, states, regions, communities, and neighborhoods into one highly 
interconnected and interdependent world. With the channels of com- 
munication open, news of events can be transmitted to every part of the 
world in a matter of minutes. The impact of specific events will also 
be felt in every sector of our highly interdependent societies. If events 
are disruptive, the disruption travels through the political structures, 
affects the economic systems, and ultimately reaches individual families. 
Major catastrophes like wars, depressions, revolutions, technological 
developments, and the ideological accompaniments of these move- 
ments reach into everyday family discussion, arguments, and agreements. 
The family is a bottleneck through which flows the everyday life of al- 
most all individuals in society. As such it becomes the sounding board 
for most of the problems occurring in the lives of millions in the worka- 
day world. The family has been called the great ventilator of society, 
since so many of the problems brought by breadwinners and school 
children are carried to the family table for airing, discussing, and re- 
phrasing. Decisions to act are often reached within the family milieu 


which in turn have repercussions on economic and political policies. 
Wars are planned, bond drives launched, and price controls tightened 
by people with power operating on the basis of the convictions, some- 
times erroneously reached, that the great bulk of family people are be- 
hind the proposed actions. How families react to economic conditions 
in the cashing of savings bonds, how they respond to excessive marking 
up of retail prices on goods, and how they turn out for elections all 
these actions make a difference in the planning that goes on in the eco' 
nomic and political systems of the country. Ours is a highly inter- 
related society with no part of it isolated or independent of any other 

In recent years the trends in marrying, divorcing, and reproductive 
behavior of families have been characterized by short-run fluctuations 
integrally related to the economic and political fluctuations of our econ- 
omy and polity. Marriage and birth rates are greatly affected by wars 
and threats of war, by depressions and prosperity cycles. The effects of 
war on family behavior deserve special attention. 

What Wars Do to Marriage 

When war comes, millions of families are disrupted as young men are 
drafted from their parental families or from their young families of pro- 
creation. Millions of women, many of them married and having chil- 
dren, enter the labor force to replace their men. Whole family units 
migrate to war production areas, bringing to a boil communities already 
overflowing. Romance is stepped up before couples are torn apart by 
the call to duty. A desperate urgency to live life to its fullest while 
there is yet time seizes young and old alike and gives rise to new be- 
havior patterns. 

Marriage Rate Increases. The marriage rate during the nineteen forties 
was greatly influenced by World War II and its aftermath. The effects 
of the war were most pronounced in the occupied countries and in those 
which participated actively in the hostilities. In the neutral countries 
of Europe, on the other hand, the marriage rates were relatively little 

The high points in the English-speaking countries came in the early 
period of the war 1939 to 1942 and again in 1946, with a trough in 
between. In the United States the marriage rate increased from an an- 






M 10,300,000 





The marriage rate reached an all-time peak in 1946 

1900* 1910 1920 

S) World 

1930 1940 1950 

Depression World 
Years War II 

From Children and Youth at the Midcentury A Chart Book, Health Publications Institute, Inc., 

Raleigh, N.C. 

nual average of 10.7 per 1,000 in the period 1935-1938, to 12.2 in 1936- 
1942. In the next two years, as our armed forces expanded and large 
numbers went overseas, the rate declined, falling to a low of 10.5 in 
1944. Following the return to civilian life of servicemen the rate swung 
upward and reached a peak of 16.2 marriages per 1000 population in 
1946. This was not only the highest rate in our country's history but 
also above that recorded in any other country during the postwar period. 
Since then the marriage rate has dropped close to its prewar level ex- 
cept for a small increase in 1950 which reflected the war in Korea. 1 

Why is it that Cupid accompanies Wars? Why, of all times, should 
people rush into marriage during war and immediately after? The in- 

1 "Recent International Marriage Trends," Statistical Bulletin (June, 1951), 
Vol. 32, Number 6, pp. 1-3. Most overrun European countries suffered severely de- 
pressed marriage rates during the later years of the war. The rates of Belgium, 
France, Italy, Luxembourg, and Romania were continually below the prewar level 
up through 1944; rates at a level of about 5 per 1000 were not uncommon. A re- 
bound came after the war, in France almost doubling 1944-1946. 


dividual reasons are many almost as numerous as the couples them- 
selves but they are apparently good enough. Many couples are 
stampeded in their decision by the impending disaster. With the 
pick-up of business and of employment in new war industrial activities, 
many young folk can afford for the first time to establish a home. The 
fears of separation precipitate marriage for many other couples. 

As men left their home communities in larger and larger numbers, 
girls became frightened at the prospect of remaining unmarried and 
often took the initiative in speeding up an affair. The popular song that 
swept the country in the early forties, "Get Your Man, Sister, Get Your 
Man," became a battle cry for many girls. Others were moved with 
feelings of patriotism to give the boys what security and comfort they 
could before the boys left for active duty. Even when marriage wasn't 
planned to start with, it often became a necessity as the relationship 
continued. Soon this rushing to marriage license bureaus became the 
thing to do, and couples more cautious to begin with followed suit as 
they saw their friends doing it. 

Which War Marriages Lasf? Studies show that during the war itself 
the divorce rate does not increase rapidly. For many couples war post- 
pones their decision to break up. While they are separated they can 
stick it out. Then, too, there are dollars-and-cents reasons for women 
remaining married for the duration. Allowances and allotments assure 
a service wife a steady income and a backlog of security at a time when 
the general man shortage gives her few better alternatives. Public sen- 
timent adds its weight to discourage wartime divorce by making it diffi- 
cult for a girl to get a legal separation from a man in service. But after 
the war is over, the breaks come painfully fast. Couples who were mar- 
ried while they were still practically strangers never did get a chance to 
become acquainted, and reunion proves not the haven of refuge of which 
each had dreamed, but a painful realization of having made a poor 
choice. Much of the unhappiness in these wartime marriages results 
from the haste with which they were consummated, the short time al- 
lowed for getting settled before being separated, the general impulsive- 
ness, the lack of such stabilizing forces as a house and furniture of one's 
own, the rapid changes in people's attitudes toward themselves and each 
other, the new ways of living that war inevitably brings, and the strain 
of long, enforced separation. Although a great many marriages do 


weather the actual period of the war, they face the bitter battle of di- 
vorce soon after hostilities cease. 2 There are authorities who question 
whether many war marriages are worth salvaging it may be best to get 
divorced and get back into circulation. Many couples, who do not sepa- 
rate, face a task of reconstruction that will require earnest effort, time, 
intelligence, and adequate skills. 

Those whose marriages took place after a real period of acquaintance 
and mutual planning for life together find that their rediscovery of each 
other after the war is a pleasure rather than a disillusionment. Which 
war marriages last? Those couples who were truly ready for marriage, 
who were mature enough to know what they wanted and who planned 
for it intelligently, who were weaned from their childhood dependence 
on family, and who were already launched on a way of life that was 
truly their own stand a good chance of picking up family life again and 
making a go of it. Couples who were able to keep closely in touch with 
each other throughout the long periods of separation find that the ex- 
perience of living together again is stimulating and satisfying, while 
other couples, less successful in bridging the miles and the months that 
separated them, find their reunion strangely baffling and disillusioning. 

These contrasts lead us to distinguish sharply between two varieties 
of marriages that occur in wartime. There are the war marriages, char- 
acterized by haste and impulsiveness and urgency; and there are the mar- 
riages in -wartime, which are the marriages that would properly have 
taken place, war or no war. These more considered unions, though 
buffeted by wartime forces, may be expected to last in far greater num- 
bers than the others, which were so hastily thrown together. Happiness 
will grow out of living, as partners achieve the satisfactions that are 
earned through devoted effort. 

Babies Born in Wartime and After 

As marriage rates increase so do birth rates. With the larger number of 
war marriages comes a wave of babies about a year later. This is particu- 
larly true of the birth rates of first babies. A glance at the figure demon- 
strates the sensitivity of the birth rate to fluctuations in economic and 

2 Divorce rates increased over 50 per cent from 1939 to 1946; veterans had 
rates twice those of nonveterans. Since 1946 the divorce rate has declined to a 
point in 1951 about 20 per cent higher than prewar years. 



political climates, in Germany and in the United States. The birth rate 
in the United States remained relatively stable during World War I, 
but the German birth rate was almost cut in half. It dropped from 27 
per thousand population in 1914 to 14 in 1917. Following a postwar 
spurt the rates of both nations declined to a depression low point in 

Through the Two World Wars and the Intervening Depression 


United States 

Germany S 


Western Germany ' 


1920 1925 


1935 1940 



Reprinted by permission from chart by U. B. Hauser in Fortune, March, 1943, supplemented from the 
Statistical Bulletin, December, 1943, and from releases of the U. S. Bureau of the Census, 1951. 

1933. The German rate rose rapidly as economic conditions improved 
and as the Nazi anti-abortion policy went into effect. The upswing in 
the United States occurred with the advent of the New Deal and in- 
creased steadily until the outbreak of World War II when a rapid 
change upward occurred. Only during the period that great numbers 
of servicemen were overseas did reproduction falter, and it picked up 
again to reach the highest point in over thirty years in 1947. Germany's 
rate in contrast was depressed by World War II; and when data were 
again available, although for Western Germany only, the birth rates of 



the late forties were shown to have been relatively low compared with 
the period following World War I. 

During the early upswing of birth rates in the United States the in- 
crease was largely in first babies, somewhat less in second and third 

















Live Births by Birth Order per 1000 female population, 16-44 
years of age, U, S., 1940, 1947-49 Federal Security Agency. 


babies. By the fifties it was apparent that the increased birth rates were 
a fact also for higher orders of births. From 1940 to 1947 the number 
of first births almost doubled, but declined from this peak about 20 per 
cent by 1950. Second births increased almost two thirds from 1940 to 
1947 and continued to increase about 6 per cent up to 1950. Third 
births increased 50 per cent the first seven years, and increased again 
about 7 per cent, 1947-1950. Fourth births increased 27 per cent, 1940 
to 1947, and increased again almost 10 per cent to 1950. Fifth and 
subsequent orders have not increased, but have just about held their 
own since 1940. This reversal of a steadily declining birth rate since 
1870 is perplexing to population statisticians, and troubling to housing, 
educational, and other agencies whose concern is to provide living and 
educational facilities for the bumper baby crop. To some authorities 
the continued high reproductive performance of American families in- 
dicates a revival of family values which many had concluded were in the 

How Families React to the Impacts of War 

When we have total war that touches every continent and dips into 
every sea, we can hardly expect that any institution or way of life can 
escape its impacts; and the family is no exception. The immediate and 
most disrupting effect of this war on home life is to scatter its members. 
As more and more men are drawn into military service, women must fill 
their jobs in order to keep the wolf from the door. Over twenty million 
women were employed in industries, government agencies, professions 
and trades, and on farms. Other millions volunteered their services to 
Red Cross, USO, church and welfare programs, community agencies, 
and child care centers. 

Many women find these new, wider contacts in jobs and services 
stimulating and satisfying. Others find the strain of keeping up a job 
and maintaining the minimum essentials of household responsibilities 
almost a superhuman task. Trying to do all the work at home, such as 
baking, cleaning, cooking, sewing, and caring for children, around the 
edges of an exacting position is more than most women can accomplish 
within the limits of time and their own strength. Relinquishing some 
of these tasks to other agencies in the community is but a partial answer 
to the problem; laundries are unable to absorb the swollen demands for 


their service at the time when the labor shortage is so critical; processed 
foods and prepared articles are scarce and expensive; shopping becomes 
more and more time-absorbing, especially for the woman who must do 
her buying at the tag end of the day when all the preceding shoppers 
have had their pick. 

Most difficult of all is obtaining adequate care for children who need 
almost constant supervision. When parents are engaged in essential 
war work outside their homes, some provision must be made for their 
children. Child care centers set up in many communities attempted 
to help by providing day care for children of working mothers. Parents 
in many towns and cities were reluctant to take full advantage of these 
centers, however. They often found the burden of getting the children 
dressed and transported over long distances to the nearest child care 
center just one thing too much in the work-heavy day. Makeshift ar- 
rangements with neighbors and relatives were a far more frequent solu- 
tion to the problem, especially for the mother who felt uneasy about 
leaving home every day and who got some sense of satisfaction in know- 
ing that the children were there anyway. Communities wise enough 
to call upon mothers in the planning and organizing of child care were 
more successful in providing facilities acceptable both to the children 
and to their mothers than those in which professional workers tried to 
run the whole program. Cooperative plans for community child care 
which grew out of the war era have been extended in a number of com- 
munities with local financial support both for the sake of those women 
whose interests carry them naturally into larger community affairs and 
for the good of the children, who benefit by systematic care and social- 

The net effect of war on the family has been to focus attention on 
the dispersal of its members and to accelerate the trends for supplement- 
ing family functions with some outside help in the form of child care 
centers, nursery schools, and day nurseries. 

Juvenile Delinquency. Older children, too, become objects of general 
concern as families disrupted by the war leave them to run the streets 
with door keys around their necks and money jingling in their pockets. 
The increase in juvenile delinquency in wartime is widely attributed to 
the preoccupation of the adult members of the family and the resulting 
letdown in supervision of older children. Other factors in the wartime 


community contribute their share to the increase in the troubles of teen- 
age youngsters through the war period: 

1 The emotional chaos of war with its simultaneous bombardment 
of fears, excitement, anxiety, hates, and loves hits the growing child and 
the budding adolescent in his most vulnerable spot, his emotions. 
When the rest of the world is going in for wholesale bombing of civilian 
population, it must be expected that the small fry will break a few win- 
dows and whack some of their fellows occasionally. 

2 School programs with traditional emphasis on academic learning 
can hardly compete with the adventurous goings-on in the world out- 
side. Youngsters filled with an eagerness to do something about the 
war, to become actively identified with the mass mobilization they see 
all about them, often find the stereotyped school program sterile. Tru- 
ancy is a first step to further mischief. The dilution of school personnel, 
as the money-conscious teachers leave for more lucrative wartime posi- 
tions while the pool of teachers in training is drained dry by industrial 
and war programs, makes for weak teaching at the very time that the 
children are most in need of strong, able school leadership. In urban 
areas where increases in population greatly exceed the available facilities 
not only teachers but physical accommodations are inadequate. There 
were schools in which three separate shifts of children were staggered 
into every school day. Some students arrived at eight to stay until 
twelve; others came at twelve to stay until four, while the third shift 
overlapped by coming at ten and staying until two. What these chil- 
dren did with the rest of the day outside of these hurried four hours in 
crowded classrooms was nobody's business, as the behavior of the chil- 
dren themselves so eloquently indicated. 

3 Child labor and youth employment have mixed effects upon young 
people. On the one hand, jobs at which youth feels needed and feels 
responsibility for doing a real piece of work are a boon to the many 
young people who seriously need just such a place in the larger society 
into which they are so eager to be inducted. Increase in home respon- 
sibilities helps many children get a new sense of what being a family 
member means, and they take their places beside their parents with in- 
sight and eagerness. 

But, also, jobs that pay considerable money to children who have 
never before earned or spent more than a few dimes tend to make it 


difficult for young people to conduct themselves wisely. Money is hardly 
the root of all evil, but it can cause a lot of trouble when it is in the 
hands of youngsters with few controls and with little opportunity for 
learning to use money wisely. This situation is aggravated by the lack, 
in most communities, of wholesome youth activities. 

4 American towns and cities have grown up so rapidly around the 
industries and businesses which brought them into being that few have 
had time to provide adequately for leisure activities. The scattered 
playgrounds are available to only a small number of children and are 
usually restricted to the lower age levels. Vacant lots where boys may 
play ball are few and far between in the congested urban areas where 
teen troubles occur most frequently. Beyond these resources there are 
only the tavern, the pool hall, and the movie theatre to absorb the time 
and the earnings of young America. Churches have but very recently 
discovered that their facilities may be used for the play of young people 
as well as the glory of God. YM's and YW's have been pegging away 
at the problem with increasing effectiveness, but they cannot be every- 
where. The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts have tended thus far to draw 
members largely from the comfortable neighborhoods where parents 
already provide constructive activities for their growing children. The 
"bad eggs" of town, the no-accounts, the tough guys, and the wild girls, 
still are not participating in the better recreational facilities in most 
American communities. These are the very youngsters who need con- 
structive and creative outlets for the emotions that have been built up 
by years of resentment and hostility. These are the children who have 
been left out of school functions, who are not too sure of the home 
base and have nothing else to tie to. Progressive communities have re- 
sponded to the need in some instances with well-placed and wisely 
guided recreational programs, teen towns, dry night clubs, and similar 

5 Girls get into trouble in many communities. During wartime 
the increase in delinquency occurs more generally among young teen- 
age girls than among young men and boys. There are at least two rea- 
sons for this: first, the young men are under military control and dis- 
cipline, as war has drafted and recruited them right out of high schools 
into military service; and second, girls, feeling the threat of a manless 
world, with all the frustrations it brings to rom